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Volume 12 No 1 Spring 1991 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

200 Seminary Dr. 

Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John J. Davis, Editor 
Homer A. Kent, Jr., Assistant Editor 

David R. Plaster Assistant Editor 

Ronald T. Clutter, Managing Editor 

Rebecca Inman, Administrative Assistant 

Donald L. Fowler, Book Review Editor 

Grace Theological Journal began semiannual publication in 1980 superseding the 
earlier Grace Journal which was published by the Seminary from 1960-73. GTJ is 
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ISSN 0198-666X. Copyright © 1992 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. 



Volume 12 No 1 Spring 1991 


A Summary Evaluation of Old Testament Hebrew Lexica, 
Translations, and Philology in Light of Key Develop- 
ments in Hebrew Lexicographic and Semitic Linguistic 
History 3 


Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual 

Criticism 21 


Recent Research on Colossians 1:15-20 (1980-1990) 51 


The Soteriology of James 2:14 69 


What does the Greek First Class Conditional Imply: Gricean 

Methodology and the Ancient Greek Grammarians .... 99 


Book Reviews (see inside back cover) 119 


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Dallas Theological Seminary, 3909 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, TX 

Grace Theological Journal 12.1 (1992) 3-20 







W. Creighton Marlowe 

Any evaluation of an Old Testament lexicon or translation must 
consider what quantity and quality of Hebraic and Semitic compara- 
tive data were available when a particular volume or version was writ- 
ten. First, major OT lexical developments are evaluated by surveying 
their two main historical periods— from the first known lexicon in a.d. 
913 to the present — in light of the most significant Semitic philological 
advances. Then guidelines and suggestions are given for choosing 
which lexica to purchase in light of the perspective gained from the 
historical overview. Next, translations of the Bible—from the LXX of 
ca. 250 b.c. to the present, through the same periods as the lexica — are 
evaluated along similar lines; and again advice is offered for selecting 
the best (primarily English) version of the Bible for personal, private, 
and public use today. Finally, certain Semitic languages are evaluated 
as to their individual, collective, and practical values for enabling the 
translator and lexicographer to understand more accurately the pos- 
sible meaning(s) of some Hebrew words. Included as an appendix is a 
helpful chart displaying a time-line of the highlights in Hebrew lexico- 
graphic and related linguistic history. 


Old Testament lexica, translations, and philology are in a constant 
state of development. The continuing and abundant advances in 
linguistic knowledge make regular revision necessary. Consequently, 
the final or perfect lexicon or Bible version has not been achieved. 


Many agree that the recent discovery and decipherment of a lost Semi- 
tic language at Ebla will not be the last such revelation coming from 
the science of archaeology. Any evaluation of an Old Testament lexi- 
con or translation must consider what quantity and quality of Hebraic 
and Semitic comparative data were available when they were written. 
The value of a Semitic language for Hebrew philology is judged in 
light of its extent of textual information and the nature of its relation- 
ship to Hebrew. 


This evaluation, like those following, will be a general, summary 
appraisal of the subject — lexica in this case — by periods. Each lexicon 
will not be examined in depth; but the nature of the philological con- 
text — affecting the potential of each to describe accurately the usage of 
the entire Biblical Hebrew vocabulary — will be reviewed. 

During the Formative Period (A.D. 913-1810) 

Hebrew lexica written during this era greatly differed as to how 
well the Hebrew language was understood when each was composed. 
Lexicographers such as Saadiah, Ben Abraham, and Saruq worked 
prior to the establishment of the rule of triradical roots during the last 
half of the tenth century. Arabic was the major comparative source for 
solving lexical problems throughout the period. Akkadian and Ugaritic 
were totally unknown. The creation of Hebrew linguistics and phi- 
lology took place in the eleventh and first half of the twelfth centuries. 
Yet monoliteral roots were still recognized when Ibn Janach's dictio- 
nary appeared in the 1040s. Not until ca. 1437-45 did the first Hebrew 
concordance come on the scene. Christian lexicographers (1506-) such 
as Reuchlin, Pagninus, Buxtorf, and Simonis depended on Jewish tra- 
dition almost exclusively. For the most part, however, Jewish lexico- 
graphic scholarship ceased from ca. 1500-1700. Christian dictionaries 
were heir to few advances during these years. Lexica produced before 
1753 were prior to Robert Lowth's revelation of the true nature (paral- 
lelism) of Hebrew poetry. Lexica of the formative period of Hebrew 
lexicography, in general, clearly were very inadequate by today's 
standards; but the major works apparently were thorough and quite 
extensive. The lexicographers were highly skilled linguists for their 
day and very competent at handling difficult forms in light of their con- 
texts. Present students of the Hebrew Bible can profit from these lexica 
by observing the often insightful interpretations of medieval philolo- 
gists working without the elaborate tools and Semitic data available 


During the Scientific Period (a.d. 1810-) 

Hebrew lexica of the scientific period of Hebrew lexicography 
were developed during two distinct sub-periods: (1) the classical years 
dominated by the lexicographic innovations and insights of Wilhelm 
Gesenius; and (2) the modern years characterized by an unparalleled 
recovery and development of Semitic linguistic aids, which included 
the discovery and decipherment of Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Eblaite. 

During the classical years (1810-71) 

Hebrew lexica compiled during these years were all influenced — 
as all subsequent lexica — by the scientific method that Gesenius 
brought to lexicography. Most of the dictionaries were either revisions 
or translations of Gesenius' works. Akkadian was discovered and deci- 
phered during the last half of this period; but no lexicon incorporated 
its data until 1871, which marked the beginning of a new stage in 
Hebrew lexicography. Thus Arabic, at times abused, was still the 
major comparative source for solving lexical difficulties. Those who 
translated Gesenius, like Samuel P. Tregelles, gave few thoughts of 
their own and, overall, tried to represent only Gesenius' lexicography. 
Also following Gesenius, these lexica sought to place every Old Testa- 
ment Hebrew word under a basic root, whether verified or theoretical. 
For some lexically difficult words, unfortunate comparisons to Indo- 
European languages were made in order to postulate a definition. Out- 
side of the initial advances Gesenius brought to the science of lexicog- 
raphy and the use of comparative information, few advances occurred 
in Semitic linguistics. Moabite was discovered in 1868. The value of 
these lexica following Gesenius have been indebted to his pioneering 
efforts and now classical approach, which have made his lexica stan- 
dard works. Although the lexica of the classical years are now out- 
dated, they offer the results of Gesenius' genius for consideration, 
especially for some lexical problems in the Old Testament. 

During the modern years (1871—) 

The modern years of Hebrew lexicography were marked by the 
most rapid developments in Semitic philology. Many advances were 
introduced into the lexica, as a result, which were never before pos- 
sible. Since 1871 Akkadian and Ugaritic linguistic information has 
become available; the former was discovered earlier but utilized since 
the date given, while the latter was discovered in 1928-30 but not used 
in a lexicon until 1953. Other linguistic developments since the last 
third of the nineteenth century were the plethora of related Semitic lit- 
erary finds and the recovery of the language and literature of ancient 


Ebla. All of this has allowed lexicographers to identify homonyms 
which lexicographers without this information were unable to recog- 
nize or substantiate. One of Gesenius' major weaknesses was his fail- 
ure to list many homonyms as separate entries because he equated 
them with the same basic root. The establishment of proper and 
unforced homonymic roots is a challenge which had a far less chance 
of success before the comparative data from Semitic philology — since 
the beginning of the twentieth century — were available. In this light 
and for the American scholar, the lexica by Brown, Driver, and Briggs; 
Kohler and Baumgartner; and Holladay should all be consulted at the 
very least when a lexical question arises. These, naturally, differ in the 
quantity and quality of their information. 

Choosing a Lexicon 

A question frequently asked by seminary students is: "Which lex- 
icon is the one to purchase?" This immediately demonstrates their 
great misunderstanding of the lexica they use and the history of lexico- 
graphic development. Moises Silva wrote: 

Lexicology takes priority in the exegetical process. We may pursue the 
analogy and suggest that, although not every exegete need become a pro- 
fessional textual critic, every exegete must have sufficient involvement in 
that work to evaluate and assimilate the results of the "experts." Simi- 
larly, all biblical interpreters need exposure to and experience in lexico- 
graphic method if they would use the linguistic data in a responsible way. 
In a survey of biblical scholars and students conducted in the late 
1960s, some respondents commented on the need for "a better under- 
standing of the nature, use, and limitations of a lexicon" on the part of 
dictionary users. 58 The point ... is still valid today. This requisite under- 
standing, however, can only be developed on the basis of a solid grasp of 
the theoretical foundations of lexicology. 

*E. F. Miller, The Influence of Gesenius on Hebrew Lexicography (New York: Co- 
lumbia University Press, 1927; reprinted, New York: AMS, 1966) 49-50. 

2 See F. Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, eds., A Hebrew and English Lexicon 
of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1907); L. H. Kohler and W. Baumgartner, eds., 
Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros (2d ed.; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1958); L. H. Kohler 
et al., Hebraischen und aramaischen Lexikon zum Alten Testament (3d ed.; 2 vols.; Lei- 
den: E. J. Brill, 1967-); and W. L. Holladay, ed., A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexi- 
con of the Old Testament (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971; reprinted, Grand Rapids: William B. 
Eerdmans, n.d.). 

3 M. Silva, Biblical Words & Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics 
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983) 31-32, citing J. E. Gates, An Analysis of the Lexico- 
graphic Resources Used by American Biblical Scholars Today (Missoula, Montana: 
SBLDS, 1972) 134. 


The serious exegete of the Old Testament cannot rely on just one 
lexicon. A number of them have varying degrees of value for the stu- 
dent of Hebrew today. The most valuable are those which have been 
compiled within the context of modern Semitic philology; that is, the 
ones which were able to utilize Akkadian or, better yet, Akkadian and 
Ugaritic when the study of these languages reached a state of maturity. 
Because of its early date, the lexicon by Brown, Driver, and Briggs is 
sometimes inaccurate in its use of Akkadian. Even at the present date 
the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary 5 (hereafter CAD) remains incom- 
plete. Still, Brown-Driver-Briggs (or BDB by its popular acronym) 
preserves an updated version of Gesenius' lexicography. Kohler and 
Baumgartner's first lexicon, along with its supplement volume, offers 
the lexical description of Hebrew vocabulary that is heir to the fifty 
years of Semitic linguistic advances following BDB. Yet it cannot be 
followed blindly or uncritically in every application of Akkadian or 
Ugaritic. Much has been learned in the quarter-century since they 
were published. The recently completed Hebrew portion (four vols.) of 
a new German Hebrew-Aramaic lexicon (edited initially by Kohler- 
Baumgartner and continued by Kutscher-Hartmann, et al.; see n. 2, 
p. 6) promises to be the most philologically complete and correct lexi- 
con to date; but the rapid rate at which such data are presently being 
made available will eventually make any current lexicon somewhat 
outdated. This is especially true of the earlier volumes because of the 
large number of years involved in writing a Hebrew lexicon. The first 

This is not to indicate they erroneously used the information but that the data at 
hand was sometimes faulty by today's standards; that is, some of the Akkadian lexical 
data they consulted is now outdated. An example is the suggestion of hilu as a cognate 
(s.v. hul ) to support the meaning "dance," to which CAD gives no related definition. 

5 I. J. Gelt et al., eds., The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the Uni- 
versity of Chicago (Chicago: Oriental Institute, 1956-). 

L. Kohler, Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros s.v. "zrb"; CAD s.v. "sarapu"; 
Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon s.v. "zrb"; and L. Kohler et al., He- 
braisches und aramaisches Lexikon s.v. "zrb." Even though this lexicon was published 
fifty years later than BDB, it is now over twenty years since its first edition; so its weak- 
nesses must be seen in the same light as that of BDB. An example is its explanation of 
zrb, a hapax in Job 6:17, as meaning "to press" in light of the Akkadian cognate zurubu. 
More recently, however, the CAD has established the proper cognate as sarapu, "to 
burn" (1961); and a decade later, Holladay's concise abridgement of the lexica based on 
the editorship of Kohler and Baumgartner gave the meaning "dry up." However, the 
third edition of the Kbhler-Baumgartner lexicon (later edited by E. Y. Kutscher and 
B. Hartmann et al.) arrived at the translation "scorch, burn" based on the Hebrew cog- 
nate srb. Unlike the second edition, the Syriac and Akkadian zrb "to press" was ques- 
tioned but shown to be a solution offered by some. Most modern English versions — the 
NEB a notable exception — have adopted an idea related to "a time of heat or burning"; 
cf. NIV, RSV, NASB, JB. 


two volumes of this latest Old Testament lexicon begun by Kohler and 
Baumgartner appeared in print during a nineteen-year period (1967- 
86); while volumes three and four were published, respectively, in 
1983 and 1990. William Holladay's abridged Hebrew lexicon (pub- 
lished in 1971) was able to make use of manuscript material for this 
third edition of Kohler-Baumgartner through the letter samek; but such 
a concise work in English cannot substitute fully for the parent Ger- 
man production. Where Holladay could not rely on published or 
unpublished portions of that lexical project (letters c ayin through taw), 
the same advantages obviously were not inherited and thus not incor- 
porated. A comprehensive, up-to-date Hebrew lexicon in English is 
still lacking among the existing and fully-published Old Testament 
Hebrew lexica. The student must ask: "What lexica should be owned?" 
No one lexicon is sufficient, or probably ever can be, for Hebrew exe- 
gesis. The careful student must, and the wise student will, consult a 
variety of the most complete and current lexica available. 7 Presently, 
the American student or scholar should at least consult the lexica by 
Gesenius-Tregelles; Brown, Driver, and Briggs; Holladay; and Kohler- 

7 See J. Barr, "Hebrew Lexicography," and P. Fronzaroli, "Problems of a Semitic 
Etymological Dictionary" in Studies on Semitic Lexicography (Florence: Instituto di 
Linguistica e di Lingue Orientali, 1973) 1-24, 103-26, for a detailed examination and 
examples of the potential and problems of the latest lexica. 

Also the reader should be made aware of other lexica in production, especially one 
in English which will replace BDB and has reported good progress since work began in 
September 1988. This lexicon, The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, unlike previous 
works and as its name implies, will seek to incorporate all the biblical and extra-biblical 
remains of the Classical Hebrew language. The director and chief editor of the project is 
Professor David J. A. Clines, University of Sheffield, with co-editors J. W. Rogerson and 
P. R. Davies. Also unlike BDB and other older lexica, the words will appear in alphabet- 
ical order. A special feature is the inclusion of syntagmatic information. The project is 
being carried out under the auspices of the Society for Old Testament Studies. 

Fascicules and the first volume of the third edition of Kohler-Baumgartner appeared 
in 1967. The lengthy production schedule created a further delay in that it became neces- 
sary to complete the project under the new general editorship of E. Y. Kutscher and 
B. Hartmann. 

Other lexica underway include, most importantly, another remake (the eighteenth 
edition) of Gesenius' Handwbrterbuch, of which the first volume, prepared by R. Meyer 
and H. Donner, has appeared. Two features will make this a very valuable addition to the 
field of Hebrew lexicography and set it apart from the other German and especially the 
English lexica discussed above. Even more than the aforementioned German work and in 
contradistinction to the "new BDB," in true Gesenius style this dictionary will contain 
an abundance of references to cognate Semitic languages and to scholarly word studies 
in bibliographic entries. Like the other German but unlike the latest and novel English 
approach, it remains strictly a dictionary of the remains of Classical Hebrew in the Old 
Testament; however, its treatment of the Ben Sira and Qumran materials is more exten- 
sive than that in any previously published Hebrew lexica. See D. J. A. Clines, editor, and 



As with the lexica the value of any translation of the Hebrew Old 
Testament is partly determined by the quality of the linguistic tools — 
in this case mainly the lexica themselves — used by the translators. 
Since accurate translation is dependent on sound exegesis, which in 
turn is dependent on the best lexica, what was generally noted about 
the linguistic and lexicographic climate of the periods of Hebrew lexi- 
cography applies to the potential of any versions produced within the 
same periods. The following will focus on a few representative OT 
translations of each period and suggest why extreme views regarding 
the priority of any one translation be abandoned. 

During the Preparatory Period (before A.D. 913) 

No known Hebrew lexicon was created during this era. Three 
major translation projects of the Hebrew Scriptures were: (1) the Greek 
version of ca. 250 B.C. (the LXX, or Septuagint); (2) the Syriac version 
of possibly a.d. 40-70 (the Peshitta); and (3) the Latin version of 
a.d. 390-405 (the Vulgate). Each of these clearly was written before 
any science of Hebrew linguistics or philology in the modern sense 
developed. On the other hand, they were composed at a time which 
possibly preserved lexical knowledge of Hebrew that was lost to later 
generations. The exact nature and value of these versions is a subject 
that is highly complex and technical and has been extensively debated. 
The concern here is merely to point out the apparent Semitic linguistic 
context in which their translators worked. In this case little is known 
specifically, but all these translations show that often the translators 
were not willing or able to render adequately the Hebrew text before 
them. Yet these versions remain very valuable for exegesis because 
they sometimes preserve a reading preferable to that in the Masoretic 
text or proposed by a lexicon. As the examples that are charted at the 
end of the next major evaluative section (p. 14) would show in some 
instances when investigated as regards their translation history, some- 
times an ancient version contains the rendering not followed by subse- 
quent versions and lexicographers but recovered and substantiated by 
data from modern Semitic philology. 

J. W. Rogerson and P. R. Davies, co-editors, "The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew: 
Newsletter 1" (University of Sheffield, July 1988) 1-2, and Clines, "Newsletter 2" (De- 
cember 1988) 1-2, for the basis of much of and further elaboration on the information 
contained in this endnote. 

8 See E. Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. 
Eerdmans, 1979) 47-83; and S. P. Brock, "The Phenomenon of Biblical Translation in 
Antiquity" in Studies in the Septuagint (New York: KTAV, 1974) 541-71. 


The Syriac Bible, or Peshitta, requires special consideration at 
this point in regard to a modern theory about its value. George M. 
Lamsa sought to popularize the view that the Syriac Bible represents 
the original language and idioms of biblical revelation, rather than 
Hebrew and Greek. In 1957 his English translation of the Peshitta was 
published. His claim was that Aramaic was the more natural language 
of discourse for the biblical writers. However, the Aramaic they spoke 
was western Aramaic, whereas Syriac is eastern Aramaic. Syriac is not 
the Aramaic of the Old Testament. Besides, evidence of written or oral 
Aramaic originals of the Hebrew Bible is speculative. As indicated 
above, the Syriac Bible sometimes might contain the more original 
reading; but Lamsa has sought not to revise but to replace the Hebrew 
text with a much later Syriac text. Unless his presupposition is 
accepted, his novel renderings usually are unnecessary because the 
Hebrew is clear and contextually valid. He is often helpful with hapax 
legomena and other difficult words. As an example of the former, the 
Peshitta has "venom" where the Hebrew has "wine" in Deut 32:33; but 
the context favors the Hebrew meaning. 

During the Formative Period (A.D. 913-1810) 

During this initial stage of lexicographic growth, important trans- 
lations appeared such as: (1) the Arabic version of ca. a.d. 1000; (2) 
the German version by Luther in ca. 1532; and (3) the Authorized, or 
King James, English Version of 1611. The theoretical common Semitic 
vocabulary stock available to the translators of the LXX, if it existed 
then, was a long-lost resource by the time of the Christian era. Chris- 
tian Hebraists of the Middle Ages were dependent on Jewish tradition; 
and Arabic dominated comparative linguistics. Knowledge of the 
Hebrew language had waned among Christian scholars because of dis- 
interest until the sixteenth century, when Jewish Hebraic studies 

Before 1500 the understanding of Hebrew was incomplete and at 
times incorrect on basic matters; but from 1500-1810 — with the loss 
of Jewish scholarship leading the way — few advances were made. This 
state of Hebraic knowledge was reflected by the lexica and transla- 
tions. The Old Testament was not translated as often as the New, and 
some translators were guided by literary as much as — possibly in a 
few cases more than — exegetical purposes. The versions of this period 
are not valuable as witnesses to the original text; but they are helpful 
in a supporting role, when a reading is suggested by stronger evidence. 

9 See G. M. Lamsa, The Holy Bible: From Ancient Eastern Manuscripts (16th ed.; 
Philadelphia: A. J. Holman, 1957) v-viii. 


The translators of this period were greatly influenced by and dependent 
on former translations, especially the LXX and Vulgate and especially 
for rare and difficult Hebrew words. The Authorized Version is the 
outstanding example. 

A number of comments are necessary concerning the Authorized 
Version (AV hereafter) in particular because of its long history of pop- 
ularity and in light of a current problem stemming from an untenable 
claim about its value as a Bible version. Like all translators, the King 
James committee members were products of their lexicographic cli- 
mate, which by today's standards and Semitic linguistic situation was 
severely limited. Many of the best English Hebraists of that day, how- 
ever, were involved in the translation process. At the same time, their 
purpose should not be forgotten. In the "Address to the Reader" — left 
out of most modern printings of the AV — the translators stated their 
purpose and policies. They let it be known that their purpose was not 
"to make a new translation but a traditional one," that is, in the tra- 
dition of the Vulgate and previous English versions with which Euro- 
peans were familiar. So their purpose was more literary than linguistic. 
At the same time, their Semitic linguistic climate was limited, pre- 
scientific in the modern sense, and lacking the aids of modern phi- 
lology. The reason the AV failed to put the great amount of OT poetry 
in poetic stanzas was that it was made more than a century before 
Lowth revealed the nature of Hebrew poetry. The translators may have 
sensed a little about the feature of parallelism in Hebrew, but their 
work shows it was not fully appreciated until after Lowth. As demon- 
strated by the chart on p. 18, the King James translators could not ade- 
quately deal with many hapax legomena because they lacked the 
advances in Semitic philology available now. Because such discover- 
ies have been so late, the numerous lexical changes needed in the OT 
were much less noticeable. Thus new translations were rarely called 
for, and the A V remained popular for over three hundred years. 

A current problem is that the AV has remained popular and is the 
most popular English version today because of its beauty and tradition 
in spite of its lack of accuracy and clarity. The same twentieth-century 
person who would never read a seventeenth-century book wants a 
seventeenth-century version of the Bible. Coupled with this is the cur- 
rent claim by many — of whom some have scholarly credentials — that 
the King James Version is the perfect written Word of God in English 
for all time. This has come in the period of Hebrew lexicography when 
the need for new translations and their constant revision is undeniable in 
light of the evidence from linguistic and philological study related to the 
biblical languages. No argument is being made against those who wish 

10 N. Frye, The Great Code (San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1982) xiii. 


to follow the Textus Receptus, but those who so choose must seek the 
best translation of that New Testament and the Masoretic text. In 1611 
the A V was it, but not now. 

During the Scientific Period (a.d. 1810-) 

The rest of this discussion of translations will focus on English 
Versions. As indicated, no great need was felt for new Bible transla- 
tions until the modern years of Hebrew lexicography (187 1— ). Numer- 
ous English versions have appeared during the twentieth century; and 
as many philological advances have progressively occurred, so have 
the translations progressively improved as to the accuracy of solving 
lexical problems in the Old Testament. The more recent versions stand 
out in this area; but such changes have been incorporated very slowly 
and conservatively. 

Choosing a Translation 

The use of data from Semitic philology affects the accuracy feature 
of good translation; however, the best translation must have beauty and 
clarity as well. Thus one should use a translation that has taken into 
account the most recent linguistic findings — not necessarily the most 
recent proposals, uncritically — and is readable, yet written in the best 
style its language offers for the age in which the translation is done. The 
reader is most interested in what the Bible says so he can interpret what 
it means; consequently, the lexical aspect is primary to the value of a 
translation. The best translations, however, are not those which have been 

"Neither does the author accept the Textus Receptus as the most authentic repre- 
sentation of the original Greek New Testament text, but the issue concerns the choosing 
of the best English translation no matter which tradition of textual transmission is fol- 
lowed. Siding with the TR does not necessitate staying with the AV/KJV as the final 
word in translating the TR. Also this debate has no bearing on the OT text, where the 
Masoretic text is accepted by most translators as the primary textual witness to the origi- 
nal Hebrew Scriptures. Witnesses to other textual traditions (the Septuagint, Samaritan 
Pentateuch, and the Qumran documents — which latter recension reflects the two others 
named and the MT) are consulted for variant readings by all who employ the science of 
textual criticism; but those who believe the AV possesses a special sacred quality as an 
English version look to no other OT text than the MT as being fundamentally the "TR" 
of the Hebrew Bible. Thus they must deal with the same basic issue in relation to the OT 
as noted above with the NT, but without clouding the discussion by accusing their oppo- 
nents of using the wrong Hebrew or OT text. Those who postulate the primacy of the AV 
of 1611 based on a preference for the TR must still explain the supposed supreme accu- 
racy of that translation for the OT in light of an abundantly increasing accurate knowl- 
edge of Hebrew grammar and lexicography since that time, coming from the many 
comparatively recent developments and advances in Semitic linguistics and comparative 
and cognate studies. 


influenced the most by Semitic comparative linguistics but those which 
have accepted the most certain results of the lexical light from cognate 
studies. An example of the former is The Anchor Bible commentary and 
translation, which frequently treats the Old Testament as more of a 
Ugaritic than a Hebrew document. An example of the latter is the NIV. 

A translation should never be chosen on the basis of tradition 
alone. Accuracy is the foremost but not the only guide. The Bible 
reader finds differences in translations because of differences in per- 
spective and knowledge when each was written. For example, the AV 
has "spider" in Prov 30:28 where the NIV has "lizard." Both may be, 
and one has to be, incorrect. Of the two, the AV was written long 
before the meaning of the Hebrew behind these renderings was 
answered by available evidence from linguistic discoveries. 

As for the clarity of translations, the AV is full of words from the 
seventeenth century like "cockatrice" in Isa 59:5 ("vipers" in the NIV) 
and "reins" in Ps 139:13 (literally, "kidneys"; "inmost being" in the 
NIV), which almost no one who speaks modern English understands. 
The question "Which translation is best?" has the same problem as the 
similar query with the lexica. No serious Bible student can limit him- 
self to just one translation for study. No perfect translation exists; they 
all have a number of strengths and weaknesses. The AV excels in the 
beauty of classical English prose; and even extreme renderings — those 
that abuse, refuse, or are unable to use data from Semitic philology — 
need to be consulted at times. In light of the criteria established above, 
the most important English Old Testament versions are the Jerusalem 
Bible, New English Bible, New American Bible, and the New Interna- 
tional Version. Those which should be regularly consulted for study 
are, at least, the ones just mentioned plus the Septuagint, Vulgate, New 
American Standard Bible, Revised (or New Revised) Standard Ver- 
sion, The Anchor Bible Commentary, and the Berkeley Translation. 
The average English Bible reader who has an Authorized (King James) 
Version should at least obtain a New International (or some modern 
version) and a New King James Version. 


Semitic languages originated before the periods of Old Testament 
Hebrew lexicography began. The value of one of these languages or 
dialects for clarifying an obscure word or passage in Hebrew is deter- 
mined by its affinity with the Hebrew language. Ugaritic, therefore, has 
become very important to OT scholars because both it and Hebrew 
reflect the speech of Canaan. The value of the Semitic languages for 
OT study is a topic of much technical debate. Such cannot be reviewed 


in full here, nor can each language be described and critiqued in detail. 
The reader is referred to the relevant literature, of which some of the 
more important titles are named in the note just indicated. 

Assessing their Collective Value 

A statement by Edward Ullendorff will suffice to support this writ- 
er's position and present purposes: 

Hebrew is a Semitic language. This trite statement implies that many as- 
pects of Hebrew can be properly evaluated only against the background of 
the ensemble of Semitics. The principal Semitic languages include Akka- 
dian ... in Mesopotamia, Ugaritic, Amorite, Phoenician . . . Hebrew- 
Moabite, and Aramaic in the . . . [Syrian and Palestinian] area, Arabic and 
South-Arabian in central and south-west Arabia, and Ethiopic in the horn 
of Africa. The closeness and relationship of the classical Semitic lan- 
guages to each other and their essential unity (this would not be true of the 
developed forms of many modern Semitic tongues) had been recognized 
by Muslim and Jewish grammarians as early as the tenth century. 13 

Assessing their Individual Value 

Unfortunately, the lexicographers of the Middle Ages were 
unaware of the most ancient Semitic linguistic data which are available 
today; but each of the languages has the potential of solving a lexical 
problem that none of the others can. All are indispensable, but some 
(Akkadian and Ugaritic) are more reliable and frequently employed 
because of their extensive materials and closer historical and linguistic 
relationship to Hebrew. At one time or another the value of these for 
an improved translation of the Old Testament has been extremely 
exaggerated. Like Arabic and Akkadian before it, a pan-Ugaritic 
school of thought is in vogue now among the disciples of Mitchell 
Dahood, who have taken Hebrew-Ugaritic philology to the extreme of 
treating Hebrew as if it were Ugaritic. Dahood popularized Ugaritol- 
ogy by re-writing Hebrew linguistics in terms of Ugaritic grammar and 
lexicography. Scholarship is correct to reject this extreme; but some- 
times the extremist uncovers things no one with a conservative 
approach is likely to see. Where the Hebrew text is clear and contextu- 
ally valid, unless other factors dictate it, the exegete need not resort to 
parallel passages and etymological cognates with different meanings in 

See E. Y. Kutscher, A History of the Hebrew Language (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 
1982) 46-53; E. Ullendorff, "Old Testament Languages" in Is Biblical Hebrew a Lan- 
guage? (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977) 29-35; and Fronzaroli, Studies on Semitic 
Lexicography 1-, among a multitude of similar studies which vary widely in value. 
13 Ullendorff, "Old Testament Languages" 31. 


the other Semitic languages. Dahood and his followers have abused 
Ugaritic in this manner. 

Cultural backgrounds and a number of lexical and grammatical 
problems in the Hebrew Bible, however, are indebted solely to the dis- 
coveries at Ugarit for their illumination. Hebrew is not to be equated 
with Ugaritic or any other Semitic tongue, but neither was the Old Tes- 
tament written in a literary vacuum. The ancient Semitic languages and 
dialects together offer the possibility of filling the gaps left in the 
present understanding of Hebrew. 

Assessing their Practical Value 

The serious student of Hebrew need not master all the Semitic 
languages, but he must at least be able to interact critically with the 
philological literature — this means the lexica if nothing else — related 
to his efforts at Old Testament exegesis. Accordingly, an introduction 
to comparative Semitics should be required of all seminary students. In 
addition to Hebrew and Aramaic, anyone who wishes to interpret and 
translate the Hebrew Old Testament should at least be familiar with the 
language and literature of Ugarit. 

Using the Semitic Cognate Lexical Data: 
Examples of their Translational Value 

The following chart provides examples of OT Hebrew words 
whose traditional translations have been confirmed or changed as a 
result of comparisons with cognate Semitic lexical data. The new ren- 
derings are not universally accepted, especially among evangelical 
exegetes; but their existence in the conservative NIV demonstrates they 
are clear instances where the translators are convinced that the context 
and linguistic evidence are best served by relying on the usage of cog- 
nate roots in Arabic, Akkadian, and Ugaritic, especially, among other 
Semitic languages. 

A question mark (?) in the chart means that it is not clear how that version (either 
AV or NIV) so marked handled the translation of the Hebrew term in question. 

The triradicals hkr, st c , and skh were new roots proposed and substantiated by their 
contexts and cognate data for inclusion in OT Hebrew vocabulary. The meaning pre- 
served by Ugaritic for the latter term has been accepted by recent lexica, but its form re- 
mains entered as skh. The terms dy, c rb, and br were proposed homographs of otherwise 
well-known terms. At least one modern lexicon has added another root, c rb, for "clouds." 
Recent lexica have recognized a new homographic term: br, "field," in Biblical Hebrew. 
As yet dy has not been included in the lexica published and available to this writer (see 
chart on p. 14) as a newly discovered Hebrew homograph; but its meaning supported by 
an Arabic cognate has influenced some English translators. The remaining roots were 
never debated as to the need for emendation. Their radicals are clear; but their usage has 
been difficult to determine, since each is either a hapax (all but two of them) or a word 




Term Semitic Cognate and 

Transliterated Lexical Solution 




Arabic dwy, "noise" 




Arabic saf D a, "sweep bare" 

"high place" 

"bare hill" 


Arabic hakara, "to wrong someone" 

"make strange" 



Akkadian sardpu, "to burn" 

"wax warm" 



Akkadian birmu, "multicolored trim" 




Akkadian kalappu, "ax" 




Ugaritic tt c , "fear" 



c rb 

Ugaritic c rp 




Ugaritic tkh, "ship" 




Aramaic br, "field" 



gb D 

Ethiopic gb D , "to gather (water)" 




In summary fashion this paper provided a linguistic basis for eval- 
uating and selecting lexica and Bible translations for personal use. The 
developmental periods of Hebrew lexicography and corresponding 
advances in Semitic languages were employed as a framework for this 
evaluative overview. In addition Semitic philology itself was assessed 
as to its practicality and necessity. It was demonstrated that the most 
recent OT lexica and versions are generally the most accurate tools. 
Comparative Semitic studies were shown to be a necessary pursuit for 
the exegete to be able to use the best linguistic tools and produce the 
most reliable interpretations and translations. 

appearing very infrequently in the OT. These are instances where new meanings were es- 
tablished for familiar roots when the appropriate Semitic comparative lexical data be- 
came available. Most modern English versions recently published and the most recent 
Hebrew lexica have accepted the translations of these terms substantiated and preserved 
by Arabic, Akkadian, and/or Ethiopic. Readers unaware should note that among Semitic 
phonemes, Hebrew s and Arabic s, Hebrew z and Akkadian s, and Hebrew s and Ugaritic 
t are interchangeable consonants. 





Dates BC/AD Lexicographic History Linguistic History 

(BEFORE a.d. 913) 

ca. 3100-450 


Eblaite, Akkadian, 


and Persian word lists 

ca. 1500-425 

Recording of OT 
Hebrew language 

ca. 458-323 

First Aramaic OT 

paraphrases (Targums) 

ca. 250 

Septuagint Pentateuch 
(Greek OT version) 

ca. 10 

First Latin dictionary 



ca. 40-70 

Syriac OT 

ca. 130-70 

other Greek versions 
of the OT 

ca. 180-430 

First major advances in 
Greek lexicography 

ca. 150-400 

Old Latin versions 

ca. 250-500 

Coptic, Ethiopic versions 

ca. 386-405 

Jerome's Latin Vulgate 



of Arabic lexical 

First Arabic grammars 


and Bible versions 

ca. 875-900 

Paltoi's Talmudic lexicon 


(a.d. 913-1810) 
The Jewish Era (913-1550) 

ca. 913 First-known Hebrew lexicon 

(Saadiah Gaon) 
ca. 945-1010 Triliteral root theory 

1040s First complete lexical and grammatical descriptions of 

Hebrew (Jonah ibn Janach) 

15 See W. C. Marlowe, "The Development of Old Testament Hebrew Lexicogra- 
phy" (Dissertation: Mid- America Baptist Theological Seminary, 1985) for a more com- 
plete and comprehensive chronological survey and chart of the highlights in the growth 
of the OT lexicon in light of Semitic lexicographic and linguistic history. 



Dates AD 

Lexicographic History 

Linguistic History 

ca. 1080-1100 First monograph on 

Hebrew homonyms 
(Judah ibn Bal c am) 

ca. 1150-1250 Centers of Judaism shift from Arabic to Christian 

ca. 1200 Complete description of 

OT Hebrew with 
Arabic references 
(David Kimchi) 

End of the "Golden Era" of Hebrew medieval philology 

ca. 1270-90 

ca. 1437-45 

ca. 1450 


ca. 1500-50 


ca. 1532 

First dictionary of OT synonyms 
(Isaac Bedersi) 

First Hebrew concordance 
Printing press invented 
First printed Hebrew Bible 
The lead in Hebrew studies shifts from Jewish to Christian 
hands almost exclusively 

First Hebrew lexicon by a 
Christian (J. Reuchlin) 

Latin linguistics begin to 
be applied to Hebrew 

Martin Luther's German 
translation of Bible 

The Christian Era (1550-1810) 






J. Buxtorf 's Hebrew lexicon 

The Authorized, or King 
James, English version 
First lexicon by a Christian to 
compare Hebrew with other 
Semitic languages (V. Schindler) 
Hebrew established as one of many Semitic languages and 
Hebrew-Arabic studies placed on a scientific basis 
(A. Schultens) 
J. Simonis' OT lexicon R. Lowth's work 

reminding western 
scholars of the true 
nature of Hebrew 
poetry (parallelism) 
Rosetta Stone found 



The Classical years (1810-71) 

Dates AD 

Lexicographic History 

Linguistic History 




Gesenius' lexical and grammatical contributions to OT 
Hebrew and Semitic philology 

Egyptian deciphered 
Robinson's translation of 
Gesenius' manual Hebrew 
lexicon into English 

Akkadian deciphered 
Sumerian discovered 
Tregelles' translation of Gesenius' 
1833 manual lexicon into English 

Moabite discovered 

The Modern years (1871—) 


Davies' Hebrew lexicon uses 
Akkadian lexical data 


Gilgamesh Epic 


Syriac thesaurus published 


Siloam inscription 


Jastrow's Targumic lexicon 


Tell el-Amarna letters 


Delitzsch's Assyrian handbook 


Hammurabi's code found 


Hittite library found 


Brown, Driver, and Briggs' 

Elephantine papyri 

Hebrew lexicon of the OT 



Dillmann's Ethiopic lexicon 


Nuzi tablets excavated 


Ugaritic deciphered 


Mari tablets and Lachish 
letters discovered 


Mandelkern's OT Hebrew 


Three editions of 



Gordon's Ugaritic 

Kohler-Baumgartner's Hebrew 

lexicon adds Ugaritic data 
The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary 

Young's Ugaritic 













Second edition of Kohler- Lisowsky's OT Hebrew 

Baumgartner's Hebrew lexicon concordance 
Von Soden's Akkadian handbook 

Herdner's corpus of 

Ugaritic texts 
Excavations at Ebla 
Work begun on the third edition of 

Kohler-Baumgartner's OT Hebrew 

lexicon (vol. 1) 
Aistleitner's Ugaritic dictionary 

Eblaite deciphered 
Holladay's English and abridged 

lexicon based on Kohler- 

Baumgartner (3rd ed.) 
Vols. 2-3, third ed. of Kohler- 
Baumgartner's OT Hebrew 

lexicon completed 
Work begun on The Dictionary of 

Classical Hebrew (ed. Clines) 
18th edition of Gesenius' 

Handworterbuch (ed. Meyer and 

Donner; vol. 1) 
Available: one vol. Gesenius 

(18th); three vols. Kohler- 

Baumgartner (3rd) 
Third edition of Kohler- 
Baumgartner's OT Hebrew 

lexicon completed (vol. 4; 

Aramaic portion, vol. 5, 

wanting) Part one (Aleph) 

of The Dictionary of Classical 

Hebrew (ed. Clines) completed 

Murtonen's Hebrew in its 
West Semitic Setting, 
3 vols. 

Grace Theological Journal 12.1 (1992) 21-50 




Daniel B. Wallace* 


The Bible has always been of central importance to evangelicals. It 
not only defines what we are to believe; it also tells us how we are 
to behave. A clear and faithful exposition of the scriptures has, histori- 
cally, been at the heart of any relevant pastoral ministry. In order for a 
particular passage to be applied legitimately, it must first be understood 
accurately. Before we ask "How does this text apply to me?" we must 
ask "What does this text mean?" And even before we ask "What does 
this text mean?" we must first ask, "What does this text say?" Determin- 
ing what a text says is what textual criticism is all about. In other words, 
textual criticism, as its prime objective, seeks to ascertain the very 
wording of the original. This is necessary to do with the books of the 
Bible — as with all literary documents of the ancient world — because the 
originals are no longer extant. Not only this, but of the more than five 
thousand manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament no two of 
them agree completely. It is essential, therefore, that anyone who 
expounds the Word of God be acquainted to some degree with the sci- 
ence of textual criticism, if he or she is to expound that Word faithfully. 
The relevance of textual criticism, however, is not shut up only to 
those who have acquaintance with Greek, nor only to those in explic- 
itly expository ministries. Textual criticism is relevant to every Chris- 
tian, precisely because many of the textual differences in Greek can be 
translated into another language. Thus the differences between the New 

*Daniel B. Wallace (B.A., Biola University; Th.M., Th.D. candidate, Dallas Theo- 
logical Seminary) is Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological 
Seminary, Dallas, Texas. 

This article is a reprint of the author's chapter by the same title in New Testament 
Essays in Honor of Homer A. Kent, Jr., edited by Gary T. Meadors (Winona Lake, IN: 
BMH, 1991). The Grace Theological Journal editorial committee felt that Professor 
Wallace's article was worthy of wider circulation and that it would benefit the readership 
of the Journal. 


Testament of the King James Version, for example, and that of the New 
American Standard Version are not just differences in the English; there 
are also differences in the Greek text behind the English — in fact, over 
5,000 differences! And with the publication of the New King James New 
Testament in 1979 (in which the KJV was rendered in modern English), 
the translational differences are diminished while the textual differences 
are heightened. The average modern American Christian who lacks the 
requisite educational background to read Elizabethan English now has 
no excuse for not reading the (new) King James Version. In light of the 
heavy promotion by Thomas Nelson Publishers, that oft-asked ques- 
tion, "What is the most accurate New Testament?," is increasingly a 
question about a version's textual basis as much as it is of the transla- 
tional philosophy behind it. 

What is the textual difference, then, between the (new) KJV NT and 
other modern translations? In a nutshell, most modern translations are 
based on a few ancient manuscripts, while the (new) KJV NT is based on 
a printed edition of the Greek New Testament (called the Textus Recep- 
tus or TR) which, in turn, was derived from the majority of medieval 
manuscripts (known collectively as the majority text [MT] or Byzantine 
text). In one respect, then, the answer to the question "What is the most 
accurate New Testament?" turns on the question, "Which manuscripts 
are closest to the original — the few early ones or the many late ones?" 

In this paper it is not my objective to answer that question. 
Rather, I wish to address an argument that has been used by TR/MT 
advocates — an argument which is especially persuasive among lay- 
men. The argument is unashamedly theological in nature: inspiration 
and preservation are intrinsically linked to one another and both are 
intrinsically linked to the TR/MT. That is to say, the doctrine of ver- 
bal-plenary inspiration necessitates the doctrine of providential preser- 
vation of the text, and the doctrine of providential preservation 
necessarily implies that the majority text (or the TR) 4 is the faithful 

x The New King James Bible, New Testament (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publish- 
ers, 1979). 

2 One of the promotional means of the publisher is the sponsoring of concerts. On 
July 18, 1988, I attended one of these concerts at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas, where 
approximately 18,000 people were in attendance. At the end of the concert, Dr. Arthur L. 
Farstad, editor of the NKJV, promoted this Bible. His chief "sales pitch" was text-critical 
in which he argued that Mark 16:9-20 was authentic and that modern translations, by de- 
leting it (or at least by casting doubts on its authenticity), delete Christ's resurrection 
from Mark's gospel. His statement, however, was not altogether accurate, for although 
there is no resurrection appearance by Christ if the gospel ends at v 8, there is still a res- 
urrection! Whether intentional or not, the impression left on the audience was that the 
NKJV is a more orthodox translation than other modern versions. 

3 For a discussion of this, see my article, "The Majority Text and the Original Text: 
Are They Identical?," BSac 148 (1991) 151-69. 

4 This statement is not meant to imply that MT = TR, but that within this school of 
thought are two divisions — those who hold that the printed edition of Erasmus (TR) is 


replica of the autographs. Inspiration (and inerrancy) is also used for 
the Byzantine text's correctness in two other ways: (1) only in the Byz- 
antine text do we have an inerrant New Testament; (2) if any portion 
of the New Testament is lost (no matter how small, even if only one 
word), then verbal-plenary inspiration is thereby falsified. 

If inspiration and preservation can legitimately be linked to the 
text of the New Testament in this way, then the (new) KJV NT is the 
most accurate translation and those who engage in an expository min- 
istry should use this text alone and encourage their audiences to do the 
same. But if this theological argument is not legitimate, then New Tes- 
tament textual criticism needs to be approached on other than a theo- 
logical a priori basis. And if so, then perhaps most modern translations 
do indeed have a more accurate textual basis after all. 

Our approach will be to deal first with the arguments from preser- 
vation, then to deal with the arguments related more directly to inspi- 
ration and inerrancy. 


A. The Statement 

On a popular level, the TR-advocating and "King James only" fun- 
damentalist pamphleteers have waged a holy war on all who would use 
any modern version of the New Testament, or any Greek text based on 
the few ancient manuscripts rather than on the many late ones. Jasper 
James Ray is a highly influential representative of this approach. 7 In his 

the original and those who hold that the reading of the majority of extant Greek wit- 
nesses is the original. 

5 This breakdown is somewhat artificial, since the arguments from inspiration and 
inerrancy are closely tied to preservation as well. However, our organization is due 
chiefly to the fact that the arguments from preservation are more traditional and univer- 
sal among TR/MT advocates, while the arguments from inspiration/inerrancy are of 
more recent vintage and are more idiosyncratic. 

6 In passing, Peter Ruckman could be mentioned as the most extreme "King James 
only" advocate, going so far as to argue that even the Greek and Hebrew text need to be 
corrected by the KJV! Cf. his The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence (Pensa- 
cola: Pensacola Bible Institute, 1970) 115-38; Problem Texts (Pensacola: Pensacola 
Bible Institute, 1980) 46-48. 

Not only has he influenced many laymen, but David Otis Fuller dedicated the 
book, Counterfeit or Genuine[:] Mark 16? John 8?, of which he was the editor (2d ed.; 
Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications, 1978), to "Jasper James Ray, 
Missionary Scholar of Junction City, Oregon, whose book, God Wrote Only One Bible, 
moved me to begin this fascinating faith-inspiring study" (p. v). Further, even Zane C. 
Hodges, formerly professor of NT at Dallas Theological Seminary, and arguably the 
prime mover in the modern revival of the "Traditional Text," "admits that it was the 
reading of Ray which began his investigation of textual criticism" (David D. Shields, 
"Recent Attempts to Defend the Byzantine Text of the Greek New Testament" [Ph.D. 



book, God Wrote Only One Bible, Ray says that no modern version 
may properly be called the Bible, 9 that salvation and spiritual growth 
can only come through versions based on the TR, and that Satan is 
the prime mover behind all versions based on the more ancient manu- 
scripts. If Ray's view is correct, then those who use modern transla- 
tions or a Greek New Testament based on the few ancient manuscripts 
are, at best, dupes of the devil and, at worst, in danger of forfeiting 
their immortal souls. 

Ray's chief argument on behalf of the TR is based on preservation. 
In the following statements, notice how closely inspiration and preser- 
vation are linked — and how both are linked to the Textus Receptus. 

dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; December, 
1985] 26. This is based on an interview Shields had with Hodges on January 15, 1985). 
function City, OR: Eye Opener Publishers, 1955. 

9 "A multiplicity of differing Bible versions are in circulation today, resulting in a 
state of bewildering confusion. Some versions omit words, verses, phrases, and even 
chapter portions. . . . Among these [versions] you'll not find the Bible God gave when 
holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit ..." (ibid., 1). 

10 The following are representative statements: "... the TEXTUS RECEP- 
TUS ... is God's sure foundation on which to rest our eternal salvation" (32). "It is im- 
possible to be saved without 'FAITH,' and perfect-saving-faith can only be produced by 
the 'ONE' Bible God wrote, and that we find only in translations which agree with the 
Greek Textus Receptus refused by Westcott and Hort" (122). "Put poison anywhere in 
the blood stream and the whole becomes poisoned. Just so with the Word of God. When 
words are added or subtracted, Bible inspiration is destroyed, and the spiritual blood 
stream is poisoned. In this respect the revised Bibles in our day seem to have become 
spiritual guinea pigs [sic], with multiple hypodermic shots-in-the-arm by so called Doc- 
tors of Divinity, who have used the serum of scholasticism well mixed with modern free- 
thinking textual criticism. When the Bible words are tampered with, and substitution is 
made, the Bible becomes a dead thing with neither power to give or sustain life. Of 
course, even under these conditions, it is possible to build up church membership, and 
report many professions. But what about regeneration? Are they born again? No person 
can be born again without the Holy Spirit, and it is evident the Holy Spirit is not going 
to use a poisoned blood stream to produce healthy christians. Therefore, beware, beware, 
lest your faith become marred through the reading of corrupted Revised Versions of the 
Bible" (9). 

"in his introduction, Ray states that he "knows that the teaching of this book, re- 
garding Textual Criticism, goes contrary to what is being taught in almost every college, 
seminary, and Bible school. . . . The reader may say, 'How can so many good, sincere ed- 
ucated people be wrong?' Herein lies the 'mystery of iniquity' (2 Thess. 2:7)" (ii). Later 
he argues: "Many of these men [who use modern versions] are true servants of the Lord, 
and we should, with patience and love, try to reveal the truth to them. They have been 
'brain-washed' by their teachers; who were 'brain-washed' by other teachers in a 'chain- 
reaction' on back to Westcott and Hort who, in 1881, 'switched' most of our seminaries 
and Bible schools from the dependable TEXTUS RECEPTUS to inferior manuscripts, 
such as codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Of course this 'chain-reaction' could be 
traced on back to its beginning in Genesis 3:1, where (Satan) the serpent said unto the 
woman, 'Yea, hath God said?' In the humanistic theology of today we would hear some- 
thing like this: 'These words are not in the best manuscripts'" (101). 


Ray says, for example, that "the Textus Receptus . . . was given by the 
inspiration of God, and has been providentially preserved for us 
today." He further adds that "the writing of the Word of God by 
inspiration is no greater miracle than the miracle of its preservation in 

1 ^ 

the Textus Receptus." Preservation, then, for Jasper James Ray, takes 
place on the same level as inspiration — i.e., extending to the very 

Even in works which are dressed in more scholarly garb, this 
theological presupposition (along with the witch-hunting invectives ) 
is still present. David Otis Fuller, for example, has edited several vol- 
umes in which professors and Bible scholars have contributed — all for 

12 Ibid„ 102. 

13 Ibid., 104. 

14 Further, inspiration and preservation are linked to tradition — especially the tradi- 
tion of the English Bible, for Ray argues: "The Bible God wrote has been providentially 
preserved for us in the Greek Textus Receptus, from which the King James Bible was 
translated in 1611. Any version of the Bible that does not agree with this text, is cer- 
tainly founded upon corrupted manuscripts" (ibid., 106). 

15 David Otis Fuller, for example, in Counterfeit or Genuine, speaks of "bastard 
Bibles" (10) and echoes J. J. Ray in condemning virtually all evangelical institutes of 
higher learning for using other than the Textus Receptus or the King James Version: 
"This is a David and Goliath battle with practically all of the evangelical seminaries and 
colleges, Bible institutes, and Bible schools slavishly following essentially the Westcott 
and Hort Greek Text and the Westcott and Hort theory, both of which are fallacious in 
every particular" (12). He adds further, as did Ray, that Satan is the mastermind behind 
this defection from the King James and TR: "born-again Christians in this twentieth cen- 
tury are facing the most malicious and vicious attack upon God's inspired Holy Word 
since the Garden of Eden. And this attack began in its modern form in the publication of 
the Revised Version of the Scriptures in 1881 in England" (9). 

Donald A. Waite, a Dallas Seminary graduate, argues in his The Theological Here- 
sies of Westcott and Hort (Collingswood, NJ: Bible for Today, 1979), that the two Cam- 
bridge dons were unregenerate, unsaved, apostate, and heretical (39-42). David D. 
Shields in his dissertation on "Recent Attempts to Defend the Byzantine Text of the 
Greek New Testament," points out that "the evidence on which [Waite] bases these con- 
clusions often would indict most evangelical Christians. Even in the author's perspective, 
Westcott and Hort have theological problems, but the extreme severity of Waite's ap- 
proach would declare anyone apostate and heretical who does not hold to his line" (55). 

Wilbur Pickering, another alumnus of Dallas Seminary, and the president of the 
Majority Text Society, although normally not as prone as many others to such language, 
does sometimes imbibe in vitriolic speech. For example, in his master's thesis, "An Eval- 
uation of the Contribution of John William Burgon to New Testament Textual Criticism" 
(Dallas Theological Seminary, 1968), he declares that the most ancient manuscripts 
came from a "sewer pipe" (93). In his book, The Identity of the New Testament Text 
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1977) — a book which has become the standard text in sup- 
port of the majority text — Pickering states, for example, that "Aleph and B have lied" 
and that "Aleph is clearly a bigger liar than B" (126), and that all the ancient manu- 
scripts on which modern critical texts are based are "convicted liars all" (135). Pickering 
has toned down his language in his second edition (1980), perhaps due to book reviews 
such as R. A. Taylor's in JETS 20 (1977) 377-81, in which such "emotionally-loaded 
language" is seen as clouding the issue (379). (In this second edition he says that "Aleph 


the purpose of proving that the TR or MT is the best Greek New Tes- 
tament. In Which Bible? he declares: 

Naturalistic New Testament critics seem at last to have reached the end 
of the trail. Westcott and Hort's broad highway, which appeared to lead 
so quickly and smoothly to the original New Testament text, has dwin- 
dled down to a narrow foot path and terminated finally in a thicket of 
trees. For those who have followed it, there is only one thing to do, and 
that is to go back and begin the journey all over again from the consis- 
tently Christian starting point; namely, the divine inspiration and provi- 
dential preservation of Scripture. 16 

The sequel to Which Bible?, entitled True or False?, is "DEDI- 
CATED TO All lovers of the Book; who believe in the Verbal, Plenary 
Inspiration of the Scriptures; and who, of necessity [,] must believe in 
the Providential Preservation of the Scriptures through the centuries; 
and who hold that the Textus Receptus (Traditional Text) is nearest to 
the Original Manuscripts.' 

This theological refrain — the linking of inspiration to preservation, 
and both to the majority text — got its major impetus from John William 
Burgon. Burgon, a high Church Anglican, Dean of Chichester, toward 
the end of the nineteenth century was both prolific and vituperative in 
his attacks against Westcott and Hort (the Cambridge scholars who pro- 
duced the Greek text which stands, more or less, behind all modern 

and B have . . . mistakes, . . . Aleph is clearly worse than B" [135], and the ancient 
manuscripts are "blind guides all" [145].) 

Theodore P. Letis, editor of The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continu- 
ing Debate (Fort Wayne, IN: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1987), seems to use 
fulminatory language against everybody, for he is in something of a theological no man's 
land: his volleys are directed not only at modern textual criticism, but also at majority 
text advocates (since he advocates the TR) — and even against inerrantists! He speaks, for 
example, of "the idolatrous affair that evangelicals are having with the red herring of in- 
errancy" (22); those who advocate using modern-language Bibles (including the transla- 
tors of the New King James Version) are "in pragmatic league with the goddess of 
modernity — Her Majesty, Vicissitude" (81); virtually all modern translations imbibe in 
Arianism (203); ad hominem arguments are everywhere to be found in his book. 

l6 Which Bible?, 5th ed. (Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications, 
1975) 8-9. 

11 True or False? The Westcott-Hort Textual Theory Examined, ed. D. O. Fuller 
(Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications, 1973) 5. This linking of inspi- 
ration and preservation is also seen most clearly in Fuller's statement that "The Scrip- 
tures make it quite clear that He [God] is also well able to insure the providential 
preservation of His own Word through the ages, and that He is the Author and Preserver 
of the Divine Revelation. The Bible cannot be accounted for in any other way. It claims 
to be 'Theopneustos,' 'God-breathed' (II Timothy 3:16)" (Which Bible?, 5). It is signifi- 
cant that Fuller gives no proof-text for preservation here, for to him if the Bible is in- 
spired it must be providentially preserved. 


translations). There is no question that Burgon is the most influential 
writer on behalf of the TR — indeed, that he is the father of the majority 
text movement — for he is quoted with extreme approbation by virtually 
every TR/MT advocate. 18 He argued that "there exists no reason for 
supposing that the Divine Agent, who in the first instance thus gave to 
mankind the Scriptures of Truth, straightway abdicated His office; took 
no further care of His work; abandoned those precious writings to their 
fate." 19 

Wilbur Pickering, president of the Majority Text Society, has con- 
tinued this type of argument into the present debate. In his 1968 master's 
thesis done at Dallas Seminary ("An Evaluation of the Contribution of 
John William Burgon to New Testament Textual Criticism") he argued 
that this doctrine is "most important" and "what one believes does make 
a difference." 20 Further, he linked the two together in such a way that a 
denial of one necessarily entails a denial of the other: "the doctrine of 
Divine Preservation of the New Testament Text depends upon the inter- 
pretation of the evidence which recognizes the Traditional Text to be the 
continuation of the autographa." 21 In other words, Pickering seems to be 
saying: "if we reject the majority text view, we reject the doctrine of 

E. F. Hills, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on NT textual 
criticism at Harvard Divinity School, argued: 

If the doctrine of the Divine inspiration of the Old and New Testament 
scriptures is a true doctrine, the doctrine of providential preservation of 
the scriptures must also be a true doctrine. It must be that down through 
the centuries God has exercised a special providential control over the 

18 In Shields' dissertation ("Recent Attempts"), the first three chapters are entitled 
"The Popular Defenders of the Textus Receptus," "The Scholarly Defenders of the Tex- 
tus Receptus," and "The Defenders of the Majority Text." In each chapter there is a sec- 
tion (or two) on Burgon and the impetus he provided for the various groups (there is 
even a Dean Burgon Society which quite explicitly promotes his views). One may, with 
some justification, feel that very little new has been said by MT/TR advocates after 

19 J. W. Burgon, The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels Vindicated and Estab- 
lished (arranged, completed, and edited by E. Miller; London: George Bell and Sons, 
1896) 12. 

20 Pickering, "An Evaluation of the Contribution of John William Burgon to New 
Testament Textual Criticism," 86. 

21 Ibid., 91. 

22 More recently, Pickering has linked inspiration and preservation so closely that 
he argued that a denial of one was a denial of the other: "Are we to say that God was un- 
able to protect the text of Mark or that He just couldn't be bothered? I see no other alter- 
native — either He didn't care or He was helpless. And either option is fatal to the claim 
that Mark's Gospel is 'God-breathed'" ("Mark 16:9-20 and the Doctrine of Inspiration" 
[a paper circulated to members of the Majority Text Society, September, 1988] 1). 


copying of the scriptures and the preservation and use of the copies, so 
that trustworthy representatives of the original text have been available 
to God's people in every age. 

Hills adds that "all orthodox Christians, all Christians who show due 
regard for the Divine inspiration and providential preservation of 
Scripture, must agree with Burgon on this matter." 

These writers are just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, so universal is 
the doctrinal underpinning of preservation found among MT/TR advo- 
cates that Bart Ehrman could say: 

One cannot read the literature produced by the various advocates of the 
Majority text without being impressed by a remarkable theological con- 
currence. To one degree or another, they all (to my knowledge, without 
exception) affirm that God's inspiration of an inerrant Bible required His 
preservation of its text. 25 

And even Theo Letis, a TR advocate himself, flatly states, "The only 
reason that the Majority Text proponents even argue for the Byzantine 
text is because theologically they have both a verbal view of inspira- 
tion — and as a hidden agenda an unexpressed (at least as part of their 
present method) belief in providential preservation.' 

23 E. F. Hills, The King James Version Defended! (4th ed.; Des Moines: Christian 
Research, 1984) 2. 

24 "The Magnificent Burgon," in Which Bible?, 90. 

25 Bart D. Ehrman, "New Testament Textual Criticism: Quest for Methodology" 
(M.Div. thesis, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1981) 40. Shields echoes the same 
viewpoint in his dissertation ("Recent Attempts") where in each of his first three chapters 
in which he interacts with various proponents of MT/TR, there is extensive material on 
"theological perspective," including inspiration and providential preservation. He sum- 
marizes that "the strong theological basis from which all advocates for primacy [of the 
Byzantine text-type] argue is a poor starting-point for determining the text of the New 
Testament and creates a history of the text which contradicts known facts" (p. 3 of ab- 
stract). Since Ehrman wrote his thesis and Shields his dissertation, Theo Letis has altered 
this picture to some degree: he is the first member of the MT/TR school (as far as I am 
aware) who, though affirming providential preservation, denies inerrancy (see n. 15). 

26 Letis, Continuing Debate, 9. One might argue that Zane Hodges does not have 
such an agenda and that therefore he is an exception to the rule. At one point, in fact, 
Hodges himself seems to say this. In his interaction with Gordon Fee over this issue, 
Hodges states: "To speak of 'all modern advocates of the TR' as having a 'hidden agenda' 
is an impermissible argumentum ad hominem. It also is not true. I, for one, would be 
quite happy to accept the Westcott-Hort text as it stands if I thought that the grounds on 
which it rested were adequate. . . . My agenda at least — and I speak here only for my- 
self — is precisely what I have expressed it to be — namely, a call to re-examine the 
claims of the majority text in the light of increasingly perceived deficiencies of the the- 
ory that underlies today's editions. I happen to think that a man's theology can affect 
his textual theories, but I am perfectly willing to entertain sensible arguments from any 


To sum up: on a lay level, as well as on a pseudo-scholarly level, 
and even on a scholarly level, inspiration, preservation and the TR/MT 
are linked intrinsically. According to Byzantine text advocates, you 
cannot have one without the other. 

B. The Critique 

There are a number of serious problems with the theological 
premise of Byzantine text advocates. Generally speaking, however, 
they all fall into one of three groups: (1) a question-begging approach, 
(2) faulty assumptions, and (3) a non-biblical doctrinal basis. As will be 
readily seen, there is a great deal of overlap between these three areas. 

1. Question-Begging Approach 

Majority text proponents beg the question for their view on at 
least three fronts. 

a. What do you count? First, they only count Greek manu- 
scripts. Yet, there are almost twice as many Latin NT manuscripts as 
there are Greek (over 10,000 to approximately 5,500). If the Latin 

quarter no matter what theology they may be associated with" ("Modern Textual Criti- 
cism and the Majority Text: A Response," JETS 21 [1978] 145-46). 

As Ehrman points out, however, there are two objections to Hodges' alleged neutral 
stance: (1) "While Hodges is right that some theological presuppositions may have no 
effect on one's approach toward textual criticism, it is equally clear that others certainly 
will. If one affirms as a theological 'given' that God would not allow a corrupted form of 
the New Testament text to be widely accepted, then, despite disclaimers, any argument to 
the contrary must be rejected out of hand. For the sake of personal integrity an individual 
such as Hodges may adduce strictly historical arguments for his position; but if one as- 
sumes this doctrine to be true and refuses to reconsider, then any textual method that 
does violence to it will be automatically rejected. For this reason, Hodges cannot 'enter- 
tain sensible arguments from any quarter no matter what theology they may be associated 
with'" (49-50). (2) "The other problem with Hodges's position is that he himself does 
not hold to it consistently. In another work ["A Defense of the Majority Text," Dallas 
Seminary, n.d., p. 18], Hodges openly states that his historical (note, historical, not theo- 
logical) arguments for the superiority of the Majority text will appeal only to those of 
similar theological conviction. ..." (50). Not only this, but elsewhere Hodges rejects 
Hort's views because of their rationalistic presuppositions, arguing that the "New Testa- 
ment text is not like any other ancient text" and that "the logic of faith demands that 
documents so unique cannot have had a history wholly like that of secular writings" 
(Hodges, "Rationalism and Contemporary New Testament Textual Criticism," BSac 128 
[1971] 29-30). Ehrman concludes from this that "apart from the fact this amounts to 
little more than rhetoric, a paradigmatic argumentum ad hominem, it is clear that Hodges 
chooses to reject the principles of Wes[t]cott and Hort simply because they do not accept 
his doctrine of revelation and preservation. Under such circumstances, to turn around and 
say that all arguments for the contrary position will be given rational consideration is 
nothing short of misleading" (51). 


manuscripts were to be counted, then modern translations would be 
vindicated rather than the King James, because the early Greek manu- 
scripts which stand behind the vast bulk of Latin manuscripts and 
behind modern translations are quite similar. At one point, E. F. 
Hills argued that "God must preserve this text, not secretly, not hidden 
away in a box for hundreds of years or mouldering unnoticed on some 
library shelf, but openly before the eyes of all men through the contin- 
uous usage of His Church." Preservation is therefore linked to public 
accessibility. It is precisely at this point that the argument for counting 
only Greek manuscripts begs the question. As Ehrman points out: 

[According to Hills,] the subsequent preservation of the New Testament 
text did not extend to guaranteeing the accuracy of its translation into 
other languages, but only to protecting the relative purity of the Greek 
text itself. Here, of course, his prior argument that God preserved the 
text for the sake of His church becomes irrelevant — since only a select 
minority in the church has ever known Greek. 

b. When do you count? Majority text advocates tacitly assume 
that since most Greek manuscripts extant today belong to the Byzan- 
tine text, most Greek manuscripts throughout church history have 
belonged to the Byzantine text. But this assumption begs the question 
in the extreme, since there is not one solid shred of evidence that the 
Byzantine text even existed in the first three centuries of the Christian 
era. Not only this, but as far as our extant witnesses reveal, the Byz- 
antine text did not become the majority text until the ninth century. 
Furthermore, for the letters of Paul, there is no majority text manu- 
script before the ninth century. To embrace the MT/TR text for the 
corpus Paulinum, then, requires an 800-year leap of faith. Not only is 
this a severe instance of petitio principii, but it also is a cavalier treat- 
ment of historical evidence unbecoming of those who boast a faith 
which cannot be divorced from history. No majority text advocate 
would tolerate such a fideistic leap regarding the person and work of 
Christ; how then can they employ it when it comes to the text? 

c. Where do you count? Suppose we were to assume that only 
Greek manuscripts should be counted. And suppose further that public 

B. M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament: Their Origin, Trans- 
mission and Limitations (Oxford: Clarendon, 1977) 359. 

28 E. F. Hills, The King James Version Defended!, 31. 

29 Ehrman, "Quest for Methodology," 43. 

30 See Wallace, "The Majority Text and the Original Text," 159-66. 

31 Ironically, in this instance majority text advocates — all of whom are theologi- 
cally conservative — share by analogy some similarities with Bultmann's separation of 
the Christ of history and the Christ preached by the early church (i.e., the Christ of faith 
or Kerygmatic Christ). 


accessibility is a legitimate divine motive for preservation. Given these 
two assumptions, one would expect the Byzantine text-type to be 
readily accessible in all pockets of the ancient Greek-speaking world. 
But that is demonstrably not true. For example, it was not readily 
available to Christians in Egypt in the first four centuries. After care- 
fully investigating the Gospel quotations of Didymus, a fourth-century 
Egyptian writer, Ehrman concludes, "These findings indicate that no 
'proto-Byzantine' text existed in Alexandria in Didymus' day or, at 
least if it did, it made no impact on the mainstream of the textual tra- 
dition there." 32 What confirms this further is that in several places Ori- 
gen, the great Christian textual scholar, speaks of textual variants that 
were in a majority of manuscripts in his day, yet today are in a minor- 
ity, and vice versa. 33 Granting every gratuitous concession to majority 
text advocates, in the least this shows that no majority text was readily 
available to Christians in Egypt. And if that is the case, then how can 
they argue for a majority on the basis of public accessibility? 

2. Faulty Assumptions 

More serious than a question-begging approach are several decid- 
edly faulty assumptions made by MT/TR advocates. These assumptions 
are shown to be faulty either by the force of logic or empirical 

a. Preservation is a necessary corollary of inspiration. E. F. 
Hills argued: 

If the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testament 
Scriptures is a true doctrine the doctrine of the providential preservation 
of these Scriptures must also be a true doctrine. It must be that down 
through the centuries God has exercised a special providential con- 
trol .... God must have done this . . . . 34 

In other words, preservation proceeds from and is a necessary conse- 
quence of inspiration. Or, in the words of Jasper James Ray, "the writ- 
ing of the Word of God by inspiration is no greater miracle than the 
miracle of its preservation . . . ." 35 Ehrman has ably pointed out the 
logical consequences of such linkage: 

Any claim that God preserved the New Testament text intact, giving His 
church actual, not theoretical, possession of it, must mean one of three 
things — either 1) God preserved it in all the extant manuscripts so that 

32 B. Ehrman, Didymus the Blind and the Text of the Gospels (Atlanta: Scholars 
Press, 1986) 260 (italics added). 

33 See Wallace, "The Majority Text and the Original Text," 166. 

Hills, King James Version Defended!, 8. 
35 Ray, God Wrote Only One Bible, 104. 


none of them contain any textual corruptions, or 2) He preserved it in a 
group of manuscripts, none of which contain any corruptions, or 3) He pre- 
served it in a solitary manuscript which alone contains no corruptions. 36 

The problem with these first and second possibilities is that neither one 
of them is true: no two NT manuscripts agree completely — in fact, 
there are between six and ten variations per chapter for the closest two 

Is it possible that the NT text was preserved intact in a single 
manuscript? No one argues this particular point, because it is easily 
demonstrable that every manuscript has scribal errors in it. However, 
one group does argue that a particular printed edition of the NT has 
been providentially preserved. Proponents of the Textus Receptus (as 
opposed to those who argue for the majority text 37 ) believe that the TR 
satisfies this third requirement. There are numerous problems with 


such a view, but it should be noted that TR advocates are at least 
consistent in putting preservation on the same level with inspiration. 

Nevertheless, there seems to be one major flaw in their approach, 
from a biblical standpoint: If the TR equals the original text, then the 
editor must have been just as inspired as the original writers, for he not 
only selected what readings were to go in this first published edition, 
but he also created some of the readings. To be specific, the last leaf of 
Erasmus' copy of Revelation was missing, so he "back-translated" 
from Latin into Greek and thereby created numerous readings which 
have never been found in any Greek manuscript. This should cause 
some pause to those conservative Protestants who hail Erasmus' text as 
identical with the original, for such a view implies that revelation con- 
tinued into at least the sixteenth century. Not only this, but Erasmus 
was a Roman Catholic who battled papists and Protestants alike — the 
very man against whom Martin Luther wrote his famous Bondage of 
the Will. Are conservative Protestants willing to say that this man was 
just as inspired as the apostle Paul or John? What is especially ironic 
about this is that most TR advocates reject the text of Westcott and 

36 Ehrman, "Quest for Methodology," 44. 

37 These two text deposits are not identical: there are almost 2,000 differences be- 
tween them. 

3 E.g., which TR? One of the editions of Erasmus, or Beza, or the Elzevir broth- 
ers? The TR has gone through numerous changes, not the least because Erasmus did a 
rather poor job of editing the text. Further, once one argues for the infallibility of the 
TR, any arguments drawn from public accessibility must be limited to the time of the 
Reformation and beyond, since the TR has scores of readings which not only were not in 
the majority beforehand, but were also nonexistent. 


Hort because (in part), as high church Anglicans, they had Roman 
Catholic leanings! 39 

b. Preservation must be through "majority rule. " To be sure, 
most scholars who employ the doctrine of preservation as a text-critical 
argument do not embrace the TR as equal to the original text. In this, 
they are not as consistent about the corollary between inspiration and 
preservation, but they are certainly more rational in other ways. Never- 
theless, there are four serious objections to the argument that preserva- 
tion must be through "majority rule." First, no where does the Bible 
state how God would preserve the NT text. Thus their argument is based 
squarely on silence. 

Second, as Sturz points out, 

. . . the Bible itself reveals that there have been occasions when there 
has been a famine or dearth of the Word of God. One thinks, for ex- 
ample, of the days of Josiah (II Kings 22:8ff.) when apparently the 
Scriptures were reduced to one copy. Nevertheless, it still could be said 
that God's Word was preserved. 40 

Third, in light of this biblical precedent of how God preserved a 
portion of the Old Testament, can we not see the hand of God guiding a 
man such as Constantin von Tischendorf to St. Catherine's monastery at 
the base of Mount Sinai, only to discover codex Sinaiticus — the oldest 
complete NT known to exist — before it met an untimely demise as kin- 
dling for the furnace? There are, in fact, countless stories of manuscript 

Not infrequently MT/TR advocates quote from the Life and Letters of Fenton 
John Anthony Hort, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1896). A favorite passage is where Hort 
writes to Westcott on October 17, 1865: "I have been persuaded for many years that 
Mary-worship and 'Jesus'-worship have very much in common in their causes and their 
results" (2:50). Cf. B. C. Wilkinson, "Our Authorized Bible Vindicated," in Which 
Bible?, 279; D. A. Waite, The Theological Heresies of Westcott and Hort, 39-42. 

In passing, it could, with equal justification, be mentioned that not only was Eras- 
mus more Catholic than either Westcott or Hort, but even Burgon had a hidden agenda in 
his vigorous defense of the longer ending of Mark: he held to baptismal regeneration and 
Mark 16:16 seemed to him to be the strongest proof-text of this doctrine. E. F. Hills 
writes that he was "strenuously upholding the doctrine of baptismal regeneration" ("The 
Magnificent Burgon," in Which Bible?, 87). That this is not an argumentum ad hominem 
is evident by the fact that his personal beliefs directly affected his text-critical approach. 
(It is perhaps not insignificant that when Hills' essay was reproduced in True or False? 
[in Fuller's introduction], this line about Burgon's beliefs was dropped.) 

H. A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism 
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984) 41-42. 

41 Contrary to popular belief, although the monks were indeed burning old biblical 
manuscripts to keep warm, codex Sinaiticus was not the next in line. (Cf. B. M. Metzger, 
The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 3d, enlarged 


discoveries which seem to speak quite eloquently for God's providential 
preservation of the text. A more biblically based view of God's provi- 
dential ways would not argue that God's hand is only seen or always seen 
in "majority rule." 

Fourth, theologically one may wish to argue against the majority: 
usually it is the remnant, not the majority, that is right. If the history of 
Christianity teaches us anything, it teaches us that the majority is 
rarely right. Taylor points out a particularly cogent analogy: 

. . . Hills' understanding of God's providential dealings in history fails 
to account for greater problems than the comparatively minor differences 
between the Textus Receptus and its modern rival. For example, God in 
His providence allowed in the medieval ages the doctrine of justification 
by faith to be almost eclipsed from public understanding until the Refor- 
mation leaders again called attention to that doctrine. Would Hills have 
God concerned that an exact form of the New Testament text be avail- 
able but unconcerned about serious and widespread soteriological mis- 

The weight of this argument is especially felt when one considers that 
the variations between the majority text and modern critical texts are 
qualitatively very minor; most would say that no doctrine is affected 
by such differences. 44 If God did not protect a major doctrine like jus- 
tification, on what basis can we argue that he would protect one form 
of the text over another when no doctrinal issues are at stake? 45 

ed. [Oxford: University Press, 1992] 42-45.) Nevertheless, one could not argue that this 
manuscript was out of harm's way, in light of the midwinter practice at the monastery. 

42 One thinks, for example, of C. H. Roberts rummaging through the basement of 
the John Rylands Library of Manchester University in 1935, only to chance upon a small 
scrap of papyrus which included portions of five verses from John's gospel (18:31-33, 
37-38), and was dated in the first half of the second century. In light of the radical Ger- 
man view of the date of John as c. a.d. 170 (harking back to F. C. Bauer a century ear- 
lier), this small fragmentary copy of John's gospel, as one scholar put it, "sent two tons 
of German scholarship to the flames." 

43 R. A. Taylor, "The Modern Debate Concerning the Greek Textus Receptus: A 
Critical Examination of the Textual Views of Edward F. Hills" (Ph.D. dissertation, Bob 
Jones University, 1973) 156. 

^Cf., e.g., D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism 
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979) 56. 

45 Sturz gives some further helpful analogies {Byzantine Text-Type, 38): "Preserva- 
tion of the Word of God is promised in Scripture, and inspiration and preservation are 
related doctrines, but they are distinct from each other, and there is a danger in making 
one the necessary corollary of the other. The Scriptures do not do this. God, having 
given the perfect revelation by verbal inspiration, was under no special or logical obliga- 
tion to see that man did not corrupt it. He created the first man perfect, but He was under 
no obligation to keep him perfect. Or to use another illustration, having created all things 
perfect, God was not obligated to see that the pristine perfection of the world was main- 
tained. In His providence the world was allowed to suffer the Fall and to endure a de- 
facement of its original condition." 


c. Public accessibility of a pure text is a theological necessity. We 
have touched on this to some degree already — at least by way of anal- 
ogy. But the argument is also contradicted by direct evidence. Pickering 
believes that "God has preserved the text of the New Testament in a very 
pure form and it has been readily available to His followers in every 
age throughout 1900 years." 46 There are two fundamental problems with 
this view. 

First, assuming that the majority text (as opposed to the TR) is the 
original, then this pure form of text has become available only since 
1982. 47 The Textus Receptus differs from it in almost 2,000 places — 
and in fact has several readings which have "never been found in any 
known Greek manuscript," and scores, perhaps hundreds, of readings 
which depend on only a handful of very late manuscripts. Many of 
these passages are theologically significant texts. Yet virtually no 
one had access to any other text from 1516 to 1881, a period of over 
350 years. In light of this, it is difficult to understand what Pickering 
means when he says that this pure text "has been readily available to 
[God's] followers in every age throughout 1900 years." 5 Purity, it 
seems, has to be a relative term — and, if so, it certainly cannot be mar- 
shaled as a theological argument. 

Second, again, assuming that the majority text is the original, and 
that it has been readily available to Christians for 1900 years, then it 
must have been readily available to Christians in Egypt in the first four 
centuries. But this is demonstrably not true, as we have already 
shown. 51 Pickering speaks of our early Alexandrian witnesses as "pol- 


luted" and as coming from a "sewer pipe." Now if these manuscripts 

46 Pickering, "Burgon," 90. 

47 Pickering states, "In terms of closeness to the original, the King James Version 
and the Textus Receptus have been the best available up to now. In 1982 Thomas Nelson 
Publishers brought out a critical edition of the Traditional Text (Majority, "Byzantine") 
under the editorship of Zane C. Hodges, Arthur L. Farstad, and others which while not 
definitive will prove to be very close to the final product, I believe. In it we have an ex- 
cellent interim Greek Text to use until the full and final story can be told" {Identity, 150). 

48 Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 100. 

49 Cf.,. in particular, 1 John 5:7-8 and Rev 22:19. 

50 To be sure, Pickering was unaware that there would be that many differences be- 
tween the TR and Majority Text when he wrote this note. Originally, his estimate was 
between 500 and 1,000 differences ("Burgon," 120). But in light of the 2,000 differ- 
ences, "purity" becomes such an elastic term that, in the least, it is removed from being 
a doctrinal consideration. 

Literally scores of studies have been done to prove this, none of which Pickering 
seems to be aware. Gordon Fee speaks of Pickering's "neglect of literally scores of 
scholarly studies that contravene his assertions" and "The overlooked bibliography here 
is so large that it can hardly be given in a footnote. For example, I know eleven different 
studies on Origen alone that contradict all of Pickering's discussion, and not one of them 
is even recognized to have existed" ("A Critique of W. N. Pickering's The Identity of the 
New Testament Text: A Review Article," WTJ 41 [1978-79] 415). 

52 "Burgon," 93. 


are really that defective, and if this is all Egypt had in the first three or 
four centuries, then this peculiar doctrine of preservation is in serious 
jeopardy, for those ancient Egyptian Christians had no access to the pure 
stream of the majority text. Therefore, if one were to define preservation 
in terms of the majority text, he would end up with a view which speaks 
very poorly of God's sovereign care of the text in ancient Egypt. 

d. Certainty is identical with truth. It seems that the underlying 
motive behind MT/TR advocacy is the equation of certainty with truth. 
For TR advocates, certainty is to be found in a printed edition of the New 
Testament. Hills' despair of finding absolute textual certainty through the 
standard means of textual criticism ultimately led him to abandon textual 
criticism altogether and replace it with a settled text, the Textus Recep- 
tus. Theo Letis, the self-proclaimed heir of Hills' mantle, argues that 
"without a methodology that has for its agenda the determination of a 
continuous, obviously providentially preserved text ... we are, in prin- 
ciple, left with maximum uncertainty, as Edward Hills characterizes it, 
versus the maximum certainty afforded by the methodology that seeks a 
providentially preserved text." 

For MT advocates, certainty is found in the majority of manu- 
scripts. Pickering argues, for example, that "If the Scriptures have not 
been preserved then the doctrine of Inspiration is a purely academic 
matter with no relevance for us today. If we do not have the inspired 
Words or do not know precisely which they be, then the doctrine of 
Inspiration is inapplicable." 55 At one point Pickering even states that 
uncertainty over the text also makes inspiration untrue. 

In response, several things can be mentioned. First, it should be 
noted that in one respect TR advocates are much more consistent than 
MT advocates: not only do they put preservation on exactly the same 
level as inspiration, but they also can be more certain about the text, 

53 We could add here an argument concerning the early versions. None of the ver- 
sions produced in the first three centuries a.d. was based on the Byzantine text. But if the 
majority text view is right, then each one of these versions was based on polluted Greek 
manuscripts — a suggestion that does not augur well for God's providential care of the 
NT text, as that care is understood by the majority text view. But if these versions were 
based on polluted manuscripts, one would expect them to have come from (and be used 
in) only one isolated region (for if only some Christians did not have access to the pure 
text, God's sovereignty might be supposed still to be left intact). This, however, is not 
the case: the Coptic, Ethiopic, Latin, and Syriac versions came from all over the Medi- 
terranean region. In none of these locales was the Byzantine text apparently used. (For 
further discussion and documentation, see Wallace, "The Majority Text and the Original 
Text," 161-62.) 

54 Letis, Continuing Debate, 200. 

55 Pickering, "Burgon," 88. 

56 W. N. Pickering, "Mark 16:9-20 and the Doctrine of Inspiration" (unpublished 
paper distributed to members of the Majority Text Society, September, 1988) 1. 


since they advocate a printed edition. But their argumentation is so 
palpably weak on other fronts that we will only make two observations 
here: (a) since the TR itself went through several different editions by 
Erasmus and others, TR advocates need to clarify which edition is the 
inspired one; (b) one simply cannot argue for the theological necessity 
of public accessibility throughout church history and for the TR in the 
same breath — for the TR did not exist during the first 1500 years of the 
Christian era. (Rather inconsistent, for example, is the logic of Theo 
Letis when he, on the one hand, argues that God must have preserved 
the pure text in an open, public, and accessible manner for Christians 
in every generation and, on the other hand, he argues that "the Latin 
and non-majority readings [of the TR] were indeed restorations of 


ancient readings that fell out of the medieval Greek tradition"! ) 

Second, regarding MT proponents, several criticisms can be lev- 
eled, two of which are as follows, (a) Pragmatically, there is in reality 
less certainty in their approach than there is among reasoned eclectics. 
In the Byzantine text, there are hundreds of splits where no clear 
majority emerges. One scholar recently found 52 variants within the 
majority text in the spaces of two verses. In such places how are 
majority text advocates to decide what is original? Since their method 
is in essence purely external (i.e., counting manuscripts), in those 
places the majority text view has no solution, and no certainty. At one 
point, Pickering recognized this lack of certainty: "Not only are we 
presently unable to specify the precise wording of the original text, but 
it will require considerable time and effort before we can be in a posi- 
tion to do so. Ironically, therefore, according to Pickering's own 
theological construct, inspiration for him must be neither relevant nor 
true, (b) Logically/theologically, the equation of inspiration with man's 
recognition of what is inspired (in all its particulars) virtually puts God 
at the mercy of man and requires omniscience of man. The burden is so 
great that a text critical method of merely counting noses seems to be 
the only way in which human beings can be "relatively omniscient." In 

Letis, Continuing Debate, 192-94. 

57 I 

58 Ibid., 17. 

59 K. Aland, "The Text of the Church?" (TrinJ 8 [1987] 136-37), commenting on 
2 Cor l:6-.7a. To be fair, Aland does not state whether there is no clear majority 52 
times or whether the Byzantine manuscripts have a few defectors 52 times. Nevertheless, 
his point is that an assumption as to what really constitutes a majority is based on faulty 
and partial evidence (e.g., von Soden's apparatus), not on an actual examination of the 
majority of manuscripts. Until that is done, it is impossible to speak definitively about 
what the majority of manuscripts actually read. 

Identity of the New Testament Text, 150. In Pickering's theological construct, 
then, the doctrine of inspiration has no significance, for elsewhere he argued "If we do 
not have the inspired Words or do not know precisely which they be, then the doctrine of 
Inspiration is inapplicable" ("Burgon," 88). 


what other area of Christian teaching is man's recognition required for 
a doctrine to be true? 

Finally, a general criticism against both the MT and TR positions: 
the quest for certainty is not the same as a quest for truth. There is a 
subtle but important distinction between the two. Truth is objective 
reality; certainty is the level of subjective apprehension of something 
perceived to be true. But in the recognition that truth is objective 
reality, it is easy to confuse the fact of this reality with how one knows 
what it is. Frequently the most black-and-white, dogmatic method of 
arriving at truth is perceived to be truth itself. Indeed, people with 
deep religious convictions are very often quite certain about an 
untruth. For example, cultists often hold to their positions quite dog- 
matically and with a fideistic fervor that shames evangelicals; first- 
year Greek students want to speak of the aorist tense as meaning 
"once-and-for-all" action; and almost everyone wants simple answers 
to the complex questions of life. At bottom this quest for certainty, 
though often masquerading as a legitimate epistemological inquiry, is 
really a presuppositional stance, rooted in a psychological insecurity. 61 

To sum up so far: The TR/MT advocates get entangled in numer- 
ous question-begging approaches and faulty — even contradictory — 
assumptions in their arguments concerning the providential preserva- 
tion of the text. That is not the worst of it, however. Their view also is 

3. Non-Biblical Doctrinal Basis 

We are often told that the consistently Christian view, or the only 
orthodox view of the text is one which embraces the Byzantine text- 
type, and that to embrace a different form of the text is to imbibe in 
heresy. Although this charge is vigorously denied by non-MT/TR 
evangelicals, the tables are rarely turned. It is our contention, however, 
that to use the doctrine of preservation in support of the MT/TR is to 
have a non-biblical view which cannot consistently be applied to both 
testaments. The majority text-preservation connection is biblically 
unfounded in four ways, two of which have already been touched on. 

a. Biblical silence. As we have argued concerning the faulty 
assumption that preservation must be through "majority rule," the 
scriptures nowhere tell us how God would preserve the NT text. What 

Along this line is a significant corollary: those Christians who must have cer- 
tainty in nonessential theological areas have a linear, or "domino," view of doctrine: if 
one falls, all fall. A more mature Christian, in our view, has a concentric view of doc- 
trine: the more essential a doctrine is for salvation (e.g., the person of Christ), the closer 
it is to the center of his theological grid; the less essential a doctrine is (e.g., what he be- 
lieves about eschatology), the more peripheral it is. 


is ironic is that as much ink as MT/TR advocates spill on pressing the 
point that theirs is the only biblical view, when it comes to the pre- 
served text being found in the majority of witnesses, they never quote 
one verse. Although they accuse other textual critics of rationalism, 
their argument for preservation via the majority has only a rational 
basis, not a biblical one. "God must have done this" — not because 
the Bible says so, but because logic dictates that this must be the case. 

b. Old Testament examples of preservation. Again, as we have 
already pointed out, the few OT examples of preservation of scripture 
do not herald the majority, but only the mere existence of a written 
witness. This fact leads to our third point — that the argument from 
preservation actually involves bibliological contradictions. 

c. A Marcionite view of the text. Marcion was a second century 
heretic whose literary remains are found only in essays written against 
him. Metzger points out that 

The main points of Marcion's teaching were the rejection of the Old Tes- 
tament and a distinction between the Supreme God of goodness and an 
inferior God of justice, who was the Creator and the God of the Jews. He 
regarded Christ as the messenger of the Supreme God. The Old and New 
Testaments, Marcion argued, cannot be reconciled to each other. 

It is our contention that majority text advocates follow in Marcion's 
train when it comes to their doctrine of preservation because their 
theological argument does not work for the Old Testament. If our con- 
tention is true, then the dogmatic basis for the majority text is biblio- 
logically schizophrenic. The evidence is of two kinds. 

First, the argument that the divine motive for preservation is pub- 
lic availability — as poor an argument as it is for the Greek text — is 
even worse for the Hebrew. Not only is it alleged that "God must do 
more than merely preserve the inspired original New Testament text. 
He must preserve it in a public way . . . through the continuous usage of 
His Church," but that "down through the ages God's providential 
preservation of the New Testament has operated only through believ- 
ers .. . .' But the Hebrew scriptures were neither preserved pub- 
licly — on display through the church as it were nor only through 
Christians. In light of this, how can majority text advocates escape the 
charge of Marcionism? In what way can they argue that a bibliological 
doctrine is true for the NT but is not true for the OT? 

62 Hills, King James Version Defended!, 8. 
B. M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and 
Significance (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987) 91-92. 
64 Hills, King James Version Defended!, 29. 
65 Ibid., 26. 


Second, it is demonstrable that the OT text does not meet the cri- 
teria of preservation by majority rule. Although the Masoretic textual 
tradition (which represents almost the entirety of the extant Hebrew 
manuscripts) is highly regarded among most OT textual critics, none 
(to my knowledge) claim that it is errorless. Most OT scholars today 
would agree with Klein that "Samuel MT is a poor text, marked by 
extensive haplography and corruption — only the MT of Hosea and 
Ezekiel is in worse condition." In fact, a number of readings which 
only occur in versions (i.e., not in the extant Hebrew manuscripts at 
all), or are found only in one or two early Qumran manuscripts, have 
indisputable claim to authenticity in the face of the errant majority. 
Furthermore, in many places, all the extant Hebrew manuscripts (as 
well as versions) are so corrupt that scholars have been forced to 
emend the text on the basis of mere conjecture. Significantly, many 

66 E. Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 
for example, argues that "an arbitrary procedure which hastily and unnecessarily dis- 
misses the traditional text . . . can lead only to a subjective form of the text which is un- 
certain historically and without any claim to theological relevance" (111). He further 
argues that the Masoretic text "has repeatedly been demonstrated to be the best witness 
to the text. Any deviation from it therefore requires justification" (113). Yet, as conser- 
vative as he is, he hastens to add, "But this does not mean that we should cling to [the 
Masoretic text] under all circumstances, because it also has its undeniable faults ..." 
(ibid.). For similar statements regarding the value, but not inerrancy, of the Masoretic 
textual tradition, see F. E. Deist, Toward the Text of the Old Testament (Pretoria: Kerk- 
boekhandel Transvaal, 1978) 247-49; R. W. Klein, Textual Criticism of the Old Testa- 
ment: The Septuagint after Qumran (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974) 62-63; F. F. Bruce, 
Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 61-69. 

67 Klein, Textual Criticism of the Old Testament, 70. Cf. also F. M. Cross, The An- 
cient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies (Garden City: Doubleday, 1958) 
179-81; E. Tov, "The State of the Question: Problems and Proposed Solutions," in 7972 
Proceedings: IOSCS and Pseudepigrapha, ed. R. A. Kraft (Missoula, MT: Scholars 
Press, 1972) 3; and especially E. C. Ulrich, The Qumran Text of Samuel and Josephus 
(Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1978) 193-221. 

68 Cf. the discussions (and demonstrations) to this effect in D. Barthelemy, Critique 
Textuelle de I'Ancien Testament: 2. Isai'e, Jeremie, Lamentations (Gbttingen: Vanden- 
hoeck & Ruprecht, 1986) 361-62 (Isa 49:12), 403-7 (Isa 53:1 1); Wurthwein, Text of the 
Old Testament, 106-10 (on 108 he argues that Qumran MS lQIsa a at Isa 2:20 is superior 
to MT); J. A. Sanders, The Dead Sea Psalms Scroll (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1967) 
17; E. Tov, The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research (Jerusalem: Si- 
mor, 1981) 70-72, 288-306; W. H. Brownlee, The Meaning of the Qumran Scrolls for 
the Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964) 216-35; G. Vermes, The Dead Sea 
Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective, rev. ed. (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977) 203-9; Cross, 
Ancient Library, 169, 189, 191; Bruce, Second Thoughts, 61-62, 66-69; Klein, Textual 
Criticism of the Old Testament, 62, 71, 74-76; C. E. Pfeiffer, The Dead Sea Scrolls and 
the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969) 101-9. 

69 Cf. especially J. Kennedy, An Aid to the Textual Amendment of the Old Testa- 
ment (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1928). In the editorial note N. Levison comments that 
"Dr. Kennedy was very conservative theologically. . . . [yet] he was possessed with an 
intense passion for the correction of the Massoretic Text, and, as will be seen from the 


such conjectures (but not all) have been vindicated by the discovery of 
the Dead Sea scrolls. Majority text advocates simply do not grapple 
with these OT textual phenomena. And if they were to do so and were 
even to prove many minority text readings or conjectures false, our 
point would still stand. Only if they could demonstrate that all minor- 
ity text readings and all conjectures were inferior (or at least probably 
so), could their argument hold water. The indisputable fact is that OT 
textual criticism simply cannot be conducted on the basis of counting 
noses. Since this is the case, either majority text advocates must aban- 
don their theological premise altogether, or else be subject to the 
charge of a bibliological double standard. 

d. The biblical doctrine of preservation. In light of the occasional 
necessity of conjectural emendation for the OT text, it is our contention 
that not only is the majority text argument for preservation entirely 
wrong-headed, but so is any doctrine of preservation which requires that 
the exact wording of the text be preserved at all. In spite of the fact that 
even opponents of the MT/TR view embrace such a doctrine, it simply 
does not square with the evidence. Only three brief points will be made 
here, in hopes of stimulating a dialogue on this issue. 

First, the doctrine of preservation was not a doctrine of the ancient 
church. In fact, it was not stated in any creed until the seventeenth 

contents of this book, it was no mere speculation but considered and conscientious study 
that led him to his conclusions" (p. vii). But note also Brownlee. Meaning of the Qumran 
Scrolls, 231 (where he accepts an emendation by C. C. Torrey for Isa 53:11, since "if the 
verse is to be scanned as poetry at all. some such alteration is necessary"); Klein, Textual 
Criticism of the Old Testament, 76 (on 1 Sam 14:47); Wurthwein, Text of the Old Testa- 
ment, 108 (on Jer 2:21); Bruce, Second Thoughts, 69 (on Isa 21:8; 53:11; and Deut 32:8); 
Deist. Towards the Text of the Old Testament, 247-49, 260; D. M. Fouts, "A Suggestion 
for Isaiah XXVI 16," Vetus Testamentum 41 (1991) 472-74. 

70 Ulrich notes that Josephus preserved "at least four genuine Samuel readings 
which were preserved by no other witness until 4QSam a was recovered" {Samuel and Jo- 
sephus, 2). Cf. also Cross, Ancient Library. 189 ("4QSam a and I Chron. 21:16 preserve a 
verse [2 Sam. 24:16b] which has dropped out of M T by haplography . . . *'): Wurthwein, 
Text of the Old Testament, 142 (lQIsa a confirms conjectures at Isa 40:6 and 40:17); Bar- 
thelemy, Critique Textuelle, 361-62 (lQIsa a at Isa 49:12) 403-7 (Isa 53:11); Brownlee, 
Meaning of the Qumran Scrolls, 218-19 (Isa 11:6; 21:8) 225-26 (Isa 49:12) 226-33 (Isa 

71 Taylor's comments in "Modern Debate" are representative: "It is essential, then, 
that this distinction be maintained between the concepts of inspiration, which insures the 
reliability of the divine revelation, and preservation, which insures the availability of the 
divine revelation" (148); "It is certain that if God took such pains to insure by inspira- 
tion the accuracy of the original manuscripts, He would not leave to an undetermined 
fate the future of those writings" (154); "Nothing of the inspired writings has been lost 
as a result of the transmission of the text. This, too, is in keeping with God's preservation 
of the Scripture" (163). Cf. also Sturz, Byzantine Text-Type, 37-49, et al. 


century (in the Westminster Confession of 1646). The recent arrival of 
such a doctrine, of course, does not necessarily argue against it — but 
neither does its youthfulness argue for it. Perhaps what needs to be 
explored more fully is precisely what the framers of the Westminster 
Confession and the Helvetic Consensus Formula (in 1675) really meant 
by providential preservation. 

Second, the major scriptural texts alleged to support the doctrine of 
preservation need to be reexamined in a new light. I am aware of only 
one substantial articulation of the biblical basis for this doctrine by a 
majority text advocate. In Donald Brake's essay, "The Preservation of 
the Scriptures," five major passages are adduced as proof that preserva- 
tion refers to the written Word of God: Ps 1 19:89, Isa 40:8, Matt 5:17- 
18, John 10:35, and 1 Pet l:23-25. 72 One of the fundamental problems 
with the use of these passages is that merely because "God's Word" is 
mentioned in them it is assumed that the written, canonical, revelation 
of God is meant. 73 But 1 Pet 1:23-25, for example, in quoting Isa 40:8, 
uses pfjua (not Xoyoq) — a term which typically refers to the spoken 
word. Brake's interpretation of Ps 119:89 ("For ever, O Lord, your 
word is settled in heaven") is, to put it mildly, improbable: "The Word 
which is settled in heaven was placed there by a deliberate and purpose- 
ful act of God Himself." 75 It seems that a better interpretation of all 
these texts is that they are statements concerning either divine ethical 
principles (i.e., moral laws which cannot be violated without some kind 
of consequences) or the promise of fulfilled prophecy. The assump- 
tions that most evangelicals make about the doctrine of preservation 
need to be scrutinized in light of this exegetical construct. 

72 Donald L. Brake, "The Preservation of the Scriptures," in Counterfeit or Genu- 
ine?, 175-218. This essay is a modification of Brake's Th.M. thesis (Dallas Seminary, 
1970), "The Doctrine of the Preservation of the Scriptures." 

73 In passing, it should be noted that all these proof-texts, if they refer to the written 
word at all, refer to the OT. The bibliological inconsistency is thus heightened, for MT/ 
TR advocates apply this doctrine only to the NT. 

74 BAGD, 735 (1). 

75 Brake, "Preservation," 181-82. Apparently Brake means by this that an exact 
written copy of the originals was brought to heaven. Not only is this difficult to believe, 
but it renders the "public accessibility" idea absolutely worthless. 

76 "The scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35), in its context, means "all will be 
fulfilled" or "all of it is true" rather than "we must have every word preserved." "Not 
one jot or tittle from the law will pass away until all is fulfilled" (Matt 5:18) plainly re- 
fers either to the ethical principles of the law or the fulfillment of prophecy, or both. 
(The validity of each of these options turns, to some degree, on how nkvfioa is used else- 
where in Matthew and the weight given to those texts — e.g., are Matthew's OT quotation 
introductory formulae [iva 7i>jpco9r| in 1:23; 2:15; 4:14, etc., connecting the term to es- 
chatological fulfillment] more significant or is Jesus' own use of nkr\poa [in 3:15, con- 
necting it to ethical fulfillment] more significant?) Either way, the idea of preservation of 
the written text is quite foreign to the context. 


Third, if the doctrine of the preservation of scripture has neither 
ancient historical roots, nor any direct biblical basis, what can we 
legitimately say about the text of the New Testament My own prefer- 
ence is to speak of God's providential care of the text as can be seen 
throughout church history, without elevating such to the level of doc- 
trine. If this makes us theologically uncomfortable, it should at the 
same time make us at ease historically, for the NT is the most remark- 
ably preserved text of the ancient world — both in terms of the quantity 
of manuscripts and in their temporal proximity to the originals. Not 
only this, but the fact that no major doctrine is affected by any viable 
textual variant surely speaks of God"s providential care of the text. Just 
because there is no verse to prove this does not make it any less true. 

C. Conclusion on the Arguments concerning Preservation 

In conclusion. MT/TR advocates argue from a theological vantage 
point which begs the question historically and logically. More serious 

Occasionally Matt 24:35 ("Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not 
pass away") is used in support of preservation. But once again, even though this text has 
the advantage of now referring to Jesus* words (as opposed to the OT). the context is 
clearly eschatological: thus the words of Jesus have certainty of fulfillment. That the text 
does not here mean that his words will all be preserved in written form is absolutely cer- 
tain because ( 1 ) this is not only foreign to the context, but implies that the written gos- 
pels were conceived at this stage in Heilsgeschichre — decades before a need for them 
was apparently felt: (2) we certainly do not have all of Jesus' words recorded — either in 
scripture or elsewhere (cf. John 20:30 and 21:25). 

A possible objection to this statement might be that, on the one hand, we criticize 
MT advocates for their rational leap of linking preservation to the majority, while on the 
other hand, here we argue for providential care without having a biblical basis. Is this 
not the same thing? No. That preservation is to be seen in the majority is an a priori as- 
sumption turned into a doctrine: that the doctrinal content of the Bible is not affected by 
the variants is an a posteriori demonstration which stops short of dogma. Thus if a via- 
ble variant were to turn up that affected a major doctrine, our view of God's providential 
care would not be in jeopardy, though it would be reworded. An analogy might be seen 
in two twentieth century wars: One could say that God's hand was seen in the Allies' de- 
feat of the Axis in World War II. as well as the Coalition's defeat of Iraq in the Persian 
Gulf War. But on occasion, a given battle in which the weather conditions had previ- 
ously been reported as quite favorable to the Allies'/Coalition's cause turned out to be 
unfavorable, this would not alter our overall picture of God's sovereignty. Rather, we 
simply could not appeal to that battle in support of our view. Similarly, our view of 
God's providential care of the text does not depend on the nonexistence of viable vari- 
ants which teach heresy precisely because we are not affirming such on a doctrinal level. 
Our statement is made solely on the basis of the evidence. .And just as historical investi- 
gation might uncover certain environmental conditions, or mechanical failures, etc., 
which were unfavorable to the Coalition forces for a given battle, still the outcome of the 
Persian Gulf War is not at all altered by such evidence — even so any new discoveries of 
manuscripts may cause us to reshape how we speak of God's providential care of the 
text, but the overall fact derived from empirical evidence is still the same. 


than petitio principii, they make several faulty assumptions which not 
only run aground on rational and empirical rocks, but ultimately backfire. 
The most telling assumption is that certainty equals truth. This is an 
evangelical disease: for most of us, at some point, the quest for certainty 
has replaced the quest for truth. But even for majority text advocates, this 
quest must, in the last analysis, remain unfulfilled. The worst feature of 
their agenda, however, is not the faulty assumptions. It is that their view 
of preservation not only is non-biblical, it is also bibliologically schizo- 
phrenic in that it cannot work for both testaments. And that, to a majority 
text or Textus Receptus advocate — as it would be to any conservative 
Christian — is the most damaging aspect of their theological agenda. 


Under the general topic of inspiration are two arguments: (1) if 
any portion of the NT is lost, then verbal-plenary inspiration is thereby 
falsified; and (2) only in the Byzantine text-type do we have an inerrant 
NT. This first argument is really the converse of the argument from 
preservation, while the second argument is a corollary of a corollary. 

A. Does Loss of Text Falsify Inspiration? 

In his paper, "Mark 16:9-20 and the Doctrine of Inspiration," 78 
Wilbur Pickering argues that if any portion of the NT is lost, then 
inspiration is not only irrelevant — it also is not true: 

Among those who wish to believe or claim that Mark's Gospel was 
inspired by the Holy Spirit, that it is God's Word, I am not aware of any 
who are prepared to believe that it could have been God's intention to ter- 
minate the book with ecpoftouvTo yap. 79 

Are we to say that God was unable to protect the text of Mark or that 
He just couldn't be bothered? I see no other alternative — either He didn't 
care or He was helpless. And either option is fatal to the claim that 
Mark's Gospel is "God-breathed." 80 ... if God was powerless to protect 
His Word then He wouldn't really be God and it wouldn't make all that 
much difference what He said. 81 ... If God permitted the original ending 
of Mark to be lost then in fact we do not have an inspired text. 82 

Anyone who denies the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 cannot consis- 
tently affirm the Divine Inspiration of Mark 1:1-16:8. I now submit the 
question to the reader: have I not demonstrated that to reject Mark 16:9— 
20 is to relinquish the doctrine of Divine Inspiration — for Mark, cer- 
tainly, but by extension for the rest of the Bible? 83 

7 A paper circulated to members of the Majority Text Society, September, 1988. 

79 Pickering, "Mark 16:9-20 and the Doctrine of Inspiration," 1. 

80 Ibid. 

81 Ibid. 

82 Ibid. 

83 Ibid., 4. 


Majority text advocates, as we have seen, argue that if there is 
uncertainty over the wording of the text, inspiration becomes irrele- 
vant. Pickering's argument goes one step beyond: if part of the text is 
lost, then "we do not have an inspired text." 

This argument seems flawed on five fronts. First, it is special 
pleading. One has to accept Pickering's (incomplete) syllogism for this 
to be true: if God was not able or did not care to protect the text, then 
inspiration is not true. Why is it not possible for the text to be origi- 
nally inspired but now lost? Apparently, once again, inspiration neces- 
sitates preservation. Further, why is it necessary to impugn either 
God's power or his goodness if part of the NT is lost? Analogously, 
would anyone argue that if Christians — who are born of God — sin, 
then God is either powerless or not good enough to prevent them from 

Second, as we have already mentioned in the first section of this 
paper, Pickering assumes that inspiration necessitates preservation. 
Yet, if our arguments against this supposition are correct, then this new 
argument (viz., lack of preservation implies non-inspiration) carries no 

Third, this approach is also Marcionite if there is ever a need for 
conjectural emendation for the Old Testament. Since that is the case, 
the loss of text (whether it be one word or a whole chapter) in prin- 
ciple cannot be used as a theological argument for a text critical view- 
point — otherwise proponents of such a view have to say that the OT is 
not inspired. 

Fourth, there is a tacit assumption on the part of Pickering that 
everything a biblical author writes is inspired. But this is almost cer- 
tainly not true, as can be seen by the lost epistles of Paul and the 
agrapha of Jesus. The argument is this: there seem to be a few, fairly 
well-attested (in patristic literature), authentic sayings of Jesus which 
are not found in the Gospels or the rest of the New Testament. Of 
course, evangelicals would claim that they are inerrant. But they would 
not be inspired because inspiration refers strictly to what is inscriptur- 
ated within the canon. Further, Paul seems to have written three or four 
letters to the Corinthians, perhaps a now-lost letter to the Laodiceans, 
and apparently more than a few letters before 2 Thessalonians. If 
some NT epistles could be lost, and even some authentic sayings of 

84 Col 4:15-16 speaks of a letter coming to the Colossians from the Laodiceans. 
This is either now lost (the known "Letter to the Laodiceans" is forged) or is the letter to 
the Ephesians which circulated counterclockwise through Asia Minor, going from Ephe- 
sus, to Laodicea, to Colossae. 

The statement in 3:17 ("this greeting is in my own hand, Paul's, which is a sign 
in every letter [of mine]") seems to imply a well-known practice. Yet, most NT scholars 
would date only Galatians and 1 Thessalonians as coming prior to this letter — i.e., 
among the known letters of Paul. 


Jesus could show up outside the NT, then either they were not inspired 
or else they were inspired but not preserved. Assuming the former to be 
true, then the question facing us in Mark's Gospel is whether an 
inspired writer can author non-inspired material within the same docu- 
ment — material which is now lost. Such a possibility admittedly opens 
up a Pandora's box for evangelicals, and certainly deserves critical 
thought and dialogue. Nevertheless, the analogies with the lost epistles 
of Paul and the authentic, non-canonical agrapha of Jesus seem to dam- 
age Pickering's contention that if the last portion of Mark's Gospel is 
lost, then inspiration is defeated. 

Finally, although Pickering is unaware of any evangelical who 
thinks Mark ended his Gospel at verse 8, there does indeed seem to be 
an increasing number of scholars who believe this, evangelicals 
included among them. Ernest Best states, for example, that "It is in 
keeping with other parts of his Gospel that Mark should not give an 
explicit account of a conclusion where this is already well known to 
his readers." 87 Further, he argues that "it is not a story which has been 
rounded off but an open story intended to draw us on further." At 
one point he makes a rather intriguing suggestion: 

Finally it is from the point of view of drama that we can appreciate most 
easily the conclusion to the Gospel. By its very nature the conclusion 
forces us to think out for ourselves the Gospel's challenge. It would have 
been easy to finish with Jesus' victorious appearances to comfort the dis- 
ciples: they all lived happily ever after. Instead the end is difficult .... 

86 So much so that W. R. Telford could argue, "While a number of scholars would 
still adhere to the view that the Gospel originally extended beyond 16:8, more and more 
are coming to the opinion that it was intended to end at 16:8, and that it does so indeed, 
in literary terms, with dramatic appositeness" ("Introduction: The Gospel of Mark," in 
The Interpretation of Mark, ed. W. R. Telford [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985] 26). Cf. 
also C. S. Mann, Mark: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Vol. 27 
in the Anchor Bible (Garden City: Doubleday, 1986) 659 ("Mark did indeed finish his 
gospel at v. 8, and ... he had a specific and well-defined purpose in doing so"); R. P. 
Meye, "Mark 16:8— The Ending of Mark's Gospel," BibRes 14 (1969) 33-43; H. Ander- 
son, The Gospel of Mark, in the New Century Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1976) 351-54; H. Paulsen, "Mark xvi. 1-8," NovT 22 (1980) 138-70; N. R. 
Petersen, "When Is the End Not the End? Literary Reflections on the Ending of Mark's 
Narrative," Interp 34 (1980) 151-66; T. E. Boomershine and G. L. Bartholomew, "The 
Narrative Technique of Mark 16:8," JBL 100 (1981) 213-23. Among those who are 
evangelicals (in the strictest sense of the word — i.e., inerrantists), a number of authors 
antedating Pickering's essay held to this view: cf., e.g., N. B. Stonehouse, The Witness of 
Matthew and Mark to Christ (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1944) 86-118; W. L. Lane, 
The Gospel of Mark in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) 582-92; J. D. Grassmick also seems to lean toward this view 
(Mark in the Bible Knowledge Commentary [Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983] 193-94). 

87 E. Best, Mark: The Gospel as Story (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1983) 73. 

88 Ibid., 74. 


The readers or hearers of Mark know the disciples did see Jesus .... Lis- 
ten to the story as a believer and work it out for yourself. It is like one of 
Jesus' own parables: the hearer is forced to go on thinking. 89 

Although one would not say that Ernest Best is an arch-conserva- 
tive, his overall interpretation of the reason for the shorter ending 
should cause no offense to evangelicals, as is evident by the fact that a 
number of evangelicals do believe that the Gospel was intended to end 
at verse 8. 90 

The argument that loss of text invalidates inspiration is, therefore, 
seen to be logically fallacious, bibliologically inconsistent, and irrele- 
vant for those evangelicals who believe that Mark intended to end his 
Gospel at the eighth verse of chapter sixteen. 

B. Does the Byzantine Text-type Have Sole Claim to Inerrancy? 

Occasionally, MT/TR advocates appeal to inerrancy in support of 
the Byzantine text-type's superiority. The argument is not new, but it 
has received a clear articulation recently by James A. Borland. In his 
article, "Re-examining New Testament Textual-Critical Principles and 
Practices Used to Negate Inerrancy," 92 Borland argues that the Alex- 
andrian readings of Aad(p in Matt 1:7, Auco<; in 1:10, and xoC f\kiov 
sKA.i7i6vxoq in Luke 23:45 are errors and must, for this reason, be 
rejected (for otherwise they impugn the character of the biblical 
authors and thereby falsify inerrancy). The reason such are errors, 
according to Borland, is that, with regard to the Matthean passage, 
Asaph and Amos were not kings (thus, spelling errors on the part of 
early Alexandrian scribes); and with regard to the Lukan passage, since 
"a solar eclipse is impossible astronomically during the full moon of 
the Passover when sun and moon are 180 degrees apart in relation to 
the earth" 93 and since the verb sKXeiTia), when used with r\kioc„ 

89 Ibid., 132. 

90 See n. 86. Besides literary criticism, another argument could be used to support 
the view that the gospel ended here: only if Mark's Gospel were originally published in 
codex form (in which case the last leaf could have possibly fallen off) could one argue 
that the ending of Mark was lost. But if, as extrabiblical parallels are increasingly show- 
ing to be more likely, the Gospel was originally written on a scroll, then the last portion 
of the book, being at the center of the scroll, would be the least likely portion of the 
book to be lost. 

91 Cf., e.g., G. Salmon, Some Thoughts on the Textual Criticism of the New Testa- 
ment (London: John Murray, 1897) 26; H. C. Hoskier, "Codex Vaticanus and Its Allies," 
in Which Bible?, 143. 

92 J. A. Borland, "Re-examining New Testament Textual-Critical Principles and 
Practices Used to Negate Inerrancy," JETS 25 (1982) 499-506; reprinted in Letis, Con- 
tinuing Debate, 46-57. All references in this paper are to the original article in JETS. 

93 Borland, "Negate Inerrancy," 504. 


normally indicated an eclipse, Luke would err if he had written this. 
In both the Matthean texts and the Lukan passage, the Byzantine text- 
type has readings which do not involve such errors (respectively, Aod, 
Apiov, Kal £GKOT{o-9r| 6 f|A.ioc, ["and the sun was darkened"]). Borland's 
conclusion is that (1) only in the Byzantine text-type do we have an 
inerrant Bible and (2) we must pour our text-critical methodology 
through the doctrinal grid of inerrancy. 

Our critique of Borland's linking of inerrancy to the Byzantine 
text-type is fourfold. First, his argument seems to question either the 
intelligence or the doctrinal conviction of virtually all members of the 
Evangelical Theological Society as well as any other non-MT/TR iner- 
rantists — stretching from B. B. Warfield to D. A. Carson. Carson goes 
so far as to say: "I cannot think of a single great theological writer 
who has given his energies to defend a high view of Scripture and who 
has adopted the TR, since the discovery of the great uncials and, later, 
the papyri and other finds.' 

Second, Borland's view suffers from historical myopia. That is to 
say, he is superimposing his modern-day, twentieth-century definition 
of inerrancy on the text. But should not our definition of inerrancy be 
shaped by both the biblical statements which imply this doctrine as 
well as the phenomena which indicate how the biblical authors under- 
stood it? One is reminded of a typical layman's understanding of iner- 
rancy: the events of the Gospels must be in strict chronological 
sequence, the red letters in the Bible refer to the ipsissima verba (exact 
words) of Jesus, etc. Faced with the contrary evidence, would it be 
appropriate to change the text to suit one's doctrine? More analogous 
still is the Purist controversy in the seventh century. 

The beginning of the seventeenth century was marked by the rise of the 
Purist controversy. The Purists maintained that to deny that God gave 
the New Testament in anything but pure classical Greek was to imperil 
the doctrine of inspiration. The Wittemberg Faculty, in 1638, decreed 
that to speak of barbarisms or solecisms in the New Testament was blas- 
phemy against the Holy Ghost. Hence, a correct conception of the pecu- 
liar idiom of the Apostles was impossible, and the estimate of different 
readings was seriously affected by this cause. Readings of existing edi- 
tions were arbitrarily mingled, the manuscripts employed and the 
sources of variants adopted were not properly specified, and a full sur- 
vey of the apparatus was impossible. 97 

Ibid., 505, n. 22. 
Ibid., 506. 

96 D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism (Grand Rap- 
ids: Baker, 1979)71. 

97 M. R. Vincent, A History of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (New 
York: Macmillan, 1899) 94. Timothy J. Ralston of Dallas Seminary is to be credited with 
pointing out this quotation to me. 


In other words, in the seventeenth century many evangelicals argued 
that the Textus Receptus was not inspired and that many of its readings 
were even "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost." They too had a myo- 
pic view of inerrancy, and they too poured their text-critical method 
through a dogmatic grid — but their conclusions were exactly the oppo- 
site of Borland's! 

Third, in letting his doctrinal position dictate the outcome of his 
textual criticism, Borland proves his own position wrong. There are 
plenty of passages far more troublesome to inerrancy than Matt 1 :7 or 
Luke 23:45. In fact, these passages hardly constitute a serious 


difficulty. To be consistent, Borland ought to advocate conjectural 
emendation wherever inerrancy seems to be in jeopardy. Who would 
not like a clean harmony between the two records of Judas' demise, 
uniform parallel accounts of Peter's threefold denial of Jesus, or an 
outright excision of the census by Quirinius? If Borland is unwilling to 
perform such radical surgery to the text under the guise of inerrancy, 
then why does he wave this doctrinal stick at significantly lesser prob- 
lems? One can only suspect that inerrancy is not driving his decisions; 

, ... . . QQ 

rather, a preservation-majority connection is. 

Finally, we question whether it is an epistemologically sound 
principle to allow one's presuppositions to dictate his text-critical 
methodology. It is our conviction that this is neither honest to a his- 
torical investigation nor fair to one's evangelical heritage. If our faith 
cannot stand up to the scrutiny of rigorous investigation, then our 
beliefs need to be adjusted. But if we always jerk back the fideistic 
reins when the empirical horse goes too fast for us, then the charges of 
obscurantism, scholasticism, even pietistic dribble are well deserved. 
Borland believes that "unhappily our widely accepted textual-critical 
principles and practices may help to accommodate them in their jesting 
against the inerrancy of Scripture." 100 But surely the jesting will be 
louder and stronger if we change the rules of the game because the 
other team is winning! 

All that needs to be noted is that variant spellings of proper names were in exis- 
tence in the first century, as well as in the LXX (thus, "Asaph" and "Amos," though un- 
usual spellings, are hardly to be classified as errors); and, as Borland himself admits, 
EK^eirao with f|X.ioi;, though usually meaning "to eclipse," does not always have this tech- 
nical nuance. Nevertheless, Borland is quite right that both passages strike one as a bit pe- 
culiar. But if they strike us a little odd, then surely they did the same for the ancient 
scribes — who would have changed the text out of their own pietistic motives. What Bor- 
land simply cannot explain is how the Alexandrian readings arose in the first place, ren- 
dering them more probably original. 

"Throughout his article Borland speaks of "the vast numerical superiority" of his 
preferred reading ("Negate Inerrancy," 504). He concludes the article by saying, "In our 
quest for the true reading we must not confine ourselves to a few early MSS while forget- 
ting the thousands of MSS that each bear an independent testimony to the text" (ibid., 506). 
100 Ibid., 506. 



In many respects, the theological premise of the TR/MT propo- 
nents is commendable. Too many evangelicals have abandoned an 
aspect of the faith when the going gets tough. That certain students of 
the NT have held tenaciously to a theological argument concerning the 
text of the NT speaks highly of their piety and conviction. If their view 
were biblically founded, it would also speak highly of their orthodoxy. 
But, as we have seen, their theological a priori is neither biblically, 
nor logically, nor historically sound. 

Concerning preservation, their underlying motive that the quest 
for certainty is identical with the quest for truth speaks volumes about 
their method. Their most self-defeating argument is that truth must be 
found in the majority — for not only does this contradict God's normal 
modus operandi, but it does not at all work for the Old Testament. 
Thus those who practice textual criticism by "majority rule" end up 
with a doctrine which promotes a bibliological double standard. At 
precisely this point they are out of step with orthodoxy, resembling 
more the ancient heretic Marcion in their view of the text. 

Byzantine text advocates' arguments which are related more 
directly to inspiration and inerrancy also falter. Pickering's argument 
that loss of text falsifies inspiration is, once again, Marcionite (for 
there is loss of text in the OT), and his lone example — the longer end- 
ing of Mark — is irrelevant to anyone who thinks that the evangelist 
intentionally ended his Gospel at 16:8. Borland's argument is that the 
presuppositions of inerrancy must drive our text-critical methodology 
and that, consequently, only in the Byzantine text-type do we have an 
inerrant text. This view was found to be not only isolationist (in which 
inerrancy is defined only in twentieth century terms which are, more- 
over, not shared by the vast bulk of twentieth century inerrantists), not 
only inconsistent (otherwise he would have to appeal to conjectures 
wherever he felt the text erred), but also epistemologically, histori- 
cally, and evangelically unsound. 

In sum, there is no valid doctrinal argument for either the Textus 
Receptus or the majority text. A theological a priori has no place in 
textual criticism. That is not to say that the majority text is to be 
rejected outright. There may, in fact, be good arguments for the major- 
ity text which are not theologically motivated. But until TR/MT advo- 
cates make converts of those who do not share with them their peculiar 
views of preservation and inspiration, their theory must remain highly 

Grace Theological Journal 12.1 (1992) 51-67 


Larry R. Helyer 

Research on Col 1:15-20 during the decade of the 80s suggests 
that the consensus of the 60s and 70s regarding the genre, composition 
and religious background of the passage is collapsing. In particular, 
the view that the passage is a pre-Pauline hymn redacted by Paul or a 
Paulinist no longer prevails. In its place, recent scholarship posits a 
Pauline composition which could best be described as a poem. There 
is also a decided shift away from a gnosticising Hellenistic Judaism as 
the conceptual reservoir of the passage. Among evangelical scholars, 
a new consensus regarding the passage appears to be emerging. 

Scholarly study of Col 1:15-20 continues to be a lightning rod in 
New Testament research. The cosmic christology and the complex 
questions concerning genre, structure, religious background and func- 
tion all contribute to the fascination of the passage. 

The purview of this article is a survey of selected studies on Col 
1:15-20 published during the decade of the 80s. The purpose is to dis- 
cern what trends may be evident, to determine whether a consensus is 
emerging with respect to some of the exegetical conundrums and to 
identify any false trails from previous research. 


We begin with two studies published in 1979 because they raised 
serious questions about the direction of scholarship vis-a-vis Col 1:15- 
20 and challenged the consensus of the 60s and 70s. These studies were, 
in retrospect, bellwethers for research in the 80s. 

In an article entitled "The Source of the Christology in Colos- 
sians," J. C. O'Neill denied a long-standing assumption in Colossian 
studies. He cast doubt upon the theory that the author of Colossians 

l NTS 26 (1979) 87-100. 


was citing a pre-existent hymn. This denied a well-nigh "assured 
result of critical study." 

We note first his arguments against the hymnic character of the 
passage. He observed that the technical terms in the passage are not 
uniformly employed — they have different meanings in the same com- 
position. This seems highly unlikely for a hymn. Secondly, the pas- 
sage fails to exhibit regular parallelism — there are too many 
inconsistencies. Thirdly, recourse to editorial insertions to salvage the 
presumed original structure lacks conviction. In such a procedure we 
are simply multiplying "hypotheses in order to save the original the- 
ory, and are in danger of pretending that the additional theories actu- 
ally render the first hypothesis more likely rather than less likely.' 

O'Neill did not, however, argue that the passage emanated from 
the hand of a single author. On the contrary, it betrayed a communal 
origin. Because words and expressions are resumed without subordina- 
tion or connection, and because scarcely an expression in the passage 
bears the meaning it would have in ordinary speech, O'Neill concluded 
that we are dealing with "the language of public declaration." Thus 
we have a passage which is confessional drawing upon the traditions 
of the community to which the author of Colossians belonged. O'Neill 
was amenable to the notion of interpolations, but assigned them not to 
the author of the letter but to an unknown reactor "after the epistle left 
the author's hand." O'Neill located the provenance of the tradition in 
Jewish circles which engaged in cosmological meditation. Conse- 
quently, the author of the letter, having his roots in that tradition, had 
taken it over but christianized it "believing that all had been fulfilled 
and completed in Jesus Christ." 10 

Whereas Frederic Manns accepted the common view that the pas- 
sage was a hymn, he drew attention to the unresolved question of how 
the hymn had been composed. He noted features which betrayed the 

2 Ibid., 87. 

2 I 

3 E.g., Ernst Kasemann's appraisal: "The hymnic character of Col 1:15-20 has 
long been recognized and generally acknowledged." "A Primitive Christian Baptismal," 
Essays on New Testament Themes (London: SCM, 1964) 149. Cf. also E. Lohse, Colos- 
sians and Philemon (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971) 41. R. P. Martin lists 
scholars who advanced the same thesis in "An Early Christian Hymn (Col. 1:15-20)," 
EQ 36 (1964) 200 n. 6. 

*His example is dpxn, (v. 18) and dp^ou (v. 16). O'Neill, "Source" 87. 


5 Ibid. 

6 Ibid., 88-89. 

7 Ibid., 89, 94. 

8 Ibid., 94. 

9 Ibid., 95. 
10 Ibid., 99. 

''Frederic Manns, "Col. 1, 15-20: Midrash Chretien de Gen. 1, 1," RevScRel 53 
(1979) 100-10. 


influence of Jewish exegetical techniques, such as the repetition of 
units organized into groups of threes and sevens; plays on the different 
meanings a word can bear, as in the gradation sv auxw, bi auxou, sic; 
auxov representing three possible translations of the Hebrew particle 
(2); and, more importantly, the exposition of the possible meanings of 
rPUWT (beginning). This latter observation assumes that the author of 
our passage drew upon Gen 1:1: "In the beginning (rPUJNia) God cre- 
ated the heavens and the earth," and identified the D'^XT as Jesus 
Christ by means of Prov 8:22: "The Lord brought me forth as the first 
(rP$N")) of his works." Manns marshalled evidence for this hypothesis 
by citing various passages in the Targums and Palestinian Midrashim 
in which the Wisdom of Prov 8:22 was equated with the n^XT of Gen 
1:1. Thus the Christian author of our passage, using Jewish midrashic 
techniques, transfers to Jesus what had in Jewish tradition been 
ascribed to God's wisdom. In so doing, the author developed four 
different senses in which Jesus is the rPWX"!: he is the first appearance 
(npb Tidvxwv), the head (Kecpa^f)), the beginning (dp^r]), and the first 

r 19 

fruits (jipwxoTOKoc;). In all of this Manns acknowledged his indebted- 
ness to the work of C. F. Burney who had suggested a similar explana- 

1 ^ 

tion for the composition of the passage back in 1925. 

Manns did break new ground in more narrowly specifying the Sitz 
im Leben of the hymn in the Jewish Passover liturgy. He drew atten- 
tion to four motifs which the hymn shares with Pascal terminology: 

(1) the antecedent context of the hymn stressing the theme of redemp- 
tion in language reminiscent of the Exodus (1:13); (2) the notion of an 
eschatological new creation (Cf. 1 Enoch 91:14-15; Jub. 1:29; Pesiq. 
R. 34:2); (3) the theme of blood connected to reconciliation and peace; 
and finally, (4) the mention of the firstborn from the dead. According 
to Manns, these motifs all underlay the Pascal "poem of the four 
nights" and were taken up and christianized by the author of Col 1:15— 
20 by connecting them to the blood of Jesus' cross and his resurrec- 
tion. For Manns, in contrast to O'Neill, we are dealing with a single 
author whose pre-Christian religious background was more nearly that 
of Palestinian Judaism. 

O'Neill and Manns, respectively, challenged the scholarly consen- 
sus at the end of the 70s that we have (1) a hymnic composition and 

(2) that the religious background of the passage derives from Hellenis- 
tic Judaism, with possible gnosticizing tendencies, redacted by Paul or 
a Paulinist. These two lonely voices in 1979 would be joined by a cho- 
rus at the end of the 80s. 

12 Ibid., 101-5. 

13 Ibid., 101. Burney's article was "Christ as the APXH of Creation: Pr 8, 22, Col 1, 
15.18, Rev 3, 14," JTS 27 (1925-26) 160-77. Burney's view was endorsed by W. D. 
Davies in his Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (London: S.P.C.K. 1948) 150-52. 

14 Ibid., 105-7. 



In a 1980 article Paul Beasley-Murray followed in the train of those 
who held that Col 1:15-20 is an early Christian hymn cited and adapted 
by Paul in light of the Colossian errorists. 15 He also concurred with 
Eduard Schweizer and R. P. Martin that we have a three-strophe hymn, 
the middle strophe being of special importance. This intermediate stro- 
phe bound together the two realms of creation and redemption and thus 
served as the focus of the entire composition. Only three Pauline 
interpolations were acknowledged: the expansion of the "all things" in 
vv. 16a-c and 20c; the affirmation in 18c of Christ's supremacy in 
everything; and the grounding of reconciliation in the cross in v. 20b. 

For the most part Beasley-Murray located the conceptual reservoir 
of the hymn in a Christian interpretation of several Old Testament pas- 
sages. Although he acknowledged that v. 15 may allude to wisdom 
christology, Beasley-Murray thought that Gen 1:26 provided a better 
fit in that the ideas of "image" and "domination" were precisely the 
focus of the hymnic assertion. 

The "firstborn" predication of v. 15 likewise derived from the OT 
notion of pre-eminence as seen in Exod 4:22 and Ps 89:27; however, 
Beasley-Murray included temporal priority since the latter clearly is 
involved in the parallel expression "firstborn from among the dead" in 
v. 18. 19 Another key Old Testament text was Ps 67(68): 16 (LXX): eu- 
§0KT|asv 6 Oedc, KaxoiKsTv ev auxw (i.e., Mt. Zion). The notion of God 
dwelling in his temple provided the background of the debated term 
nXripwua in v. 19 rather than any connection to Gnosticism or Stoic 
philosophy. 20 Beasley-Murray stoutly resisted the notion that the pre- 
Pauline hymn was couched in terms of a world body concept of which 

9 1 

Christ was the head. Indeed, in only one place did he admit that the 
hymn borrowed from popular philosophy and that was in the phrase 
"all things hold together in him" (v. 17b). Even here, however, he 
asserted that the meaning is more the active idea of "putting back 
together" and thus the Jewish-Christian notion of reconciliation which 
leads into the third strophe. 

In short, Beasley-Murray attributed the genesis of the hymn to a 
fundamental Kyrios christology — the Lordship of Jesus Christ was the 
central affirmation. This Lordship was affirmed in Adamic categories 

15 "An Early Christian Hymn Celebrating the Lordship of Christ," Pauline Studies: 
Essays Presented to Professor F. F. Bruce on His 70th Birthday (eds. Donald A. Hagner 
and Murray J. Harris; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980) 169-83, esp. 169. 

16 Ibid., 169-70. 

17 Ibid., 170. 

18 Ibid. 

19 Ibid. 

20 Ibid., 177. 

21 Ibid., 180-82. 


of image and dominion and augmented by the motif of the indwelling 
and redeeming God. Though perhaps influenced by earlier Jewish 
speculation about Wisdom and Adam, the driving force behind the 
hymn lay in the distinctly Christian confession: Jesus is Lord. 


James D. G. Dunn's Christology in the Making appeared in 
1980. This substantial investigation into the origins of the doctrine 
of incarnation devoted some seven pages to an examination of our pas- 
sage. He accepted the verdict that this was a pre-Pauline hymn 
redacted "without too much modification." 24 He opted for a basic two- 
strophe arrangement in which protology and eschatology were the 
principal topics respectively. As to background, Dunn cast doubt 
upon Adam christology in the first strophe because the notion of crea- 
tion in, by and for Christ had no counterpart. He concluded that the 
description of Christ in the first clause was "very much that of Wis- 
dom. Thus the circles from which such a hymn arose would most 
likely be Hellenistic Jewish Christian. 

The most significant and provocative aspect of Dunn's study was 
his hermeneutical approach to the affirmations about Christ in the pas- 
sage. He maintained that the attributions should be understood as ways 
of expressing the early Christian belief that God's creative activity and 
redemptive activity were connected. Thus according to Dunn the early 
Christians were not really saying that Christ was the actual agent of 
creation or that he actually was a pre-existent being, but that they now 
recognize in Christ the embodiment and definition of God's power 
which was once active in creation as it is now active in redemption. 27 
This is disappointing coming from one whose roots are in evangelical- 
ism. Such an approach seems to be a form of de-mythologizing and 
violates Dunn's own excellent guidelines for doing biblical theology as 
he outlined them in the first chapter of his book. 28 

T. E. Pollard offered a "reconsideration" of Col 1:12-20 in a 1981 
study. By-passing the questions of genre and structure (he refers to 
the passage as a hymn), he devoted his attention to the same question 
as Manns, namely, how the passage was composed. For Pollard the so- 
called cosmology was really subordinated by the context to the chief 

22 Ibid., 179. 
James D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry Into the 
Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980). 
24 Ibid., 188. 
25 Ibid. 
26 Ibid. 
27 Ibid., 194. 
28 Ibid., 9-10 
29 "Colossians 1.12-20: A Reconsideration," NTS 27 (1981) 572-75. 


concern which was the fact of redemption. This soteriological focus, 
which characterizes Paul's christological statements elsewhere (Cf. 
1 Cor 8:6; Phil 2:6-11), determined the meaning of the hymn, what- 
ever its original meaning may have been. 

As to the genesis of the original hymn, Pollard seemed sympa- 
thetic to C. F. Burney's thesis that we have a rabbinic-style exegesis of 
rPttJN13, even though he was aware that many scholars dismissed it. He 
observed, however, that virtually all scholars agree that below the sur- 
face of the passage lies the figure of Wisdom. This led Pollard to the 
observation that Paul clearly identified Christ as Wisdom in 1 Cor 
1:24. Might it not be, he concluded, that Paul was giving an exegesis 
of 1 Cor 1:24 and 8:6 in Col l:15ff.? Be that as it may, Pollard contin- 
ued, what is demonstrable is an interweaving of several themes which 
is typical of both Rabbinic and Philonic exegesis. This configuration of 
ideas — Wisdom, Torah, Adam, and Israel — all linked together and 
christianized provides the best explanation for how the passage origi- 
nated. Thus Christ superseded and realized fully all that these notions 
had originally meant in Jewish faith and thought. Pollard's view of 
the genesis of the hymn is thus close to Mann's, though not as restric- 
tive in the scope of the Jewish background. 

We would add that Pollard's interpretation of the language of pre- 
existence is also close to that of Dunn. In this regard Pollard cited with 
approval Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's contention that the meaning of such 
language is that Christ "represents the divine intent which came to histori- 
cal expression in the creation of Adam." 33 Apparently Pollard understands 
the language of pre-existence in functional rather than ontological terms. 


A major commentary on Colossians written by an evangelical 
scholar, Peter T. O'Brien, appeared in 1982. 34 While acknowledging 
that Col 1:15-20 was a pre-Pauline hymn, O'Brien also broadened the 
category to include confessional, liturgical, polemical or doxological 
material. He preferred to label the passage as "a traditional hymnic 
piece." With regard to structure, he noted that no consensus had yet 
emerged on the number and content of the stanzas. 

30 Ibid., 573. 
31 Ibid. 
32 Ibid., 575. 
Ibid., 574. citing Becoming Human Together (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 
1977) 48. 

34 Colossians, Philemon (WBC 44; Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1982). 
35 Ibid., 32, 33. 
36 Ibid., 35. 


On the question of background, he reviewed and refuted the pre- 
Christian Gnostic thesis of Kasemann. He also surveyed the approach 
of C. F. Burney and concluded that "although Burney's detailed argu- 
ment may be open to question, his drawing attention to Old Testament 
parallels which clearly lie close at hand — rather than some uncertain 
parallels which have been claimed in Gnosticism, Stoicism and else- 


where — is commendable." O'Brien acknowledged the probable influ- 
ence of wisdom speculation in Hellenistic Judaism upon the formulation 
of the passage. He rejected, however, Eduard Schweizer's version of this 
approach whereby the author of Colossians felt compelled to redact the 
orientation of the hymn so that it reflected a theology of the cross. 

O'Brien's own view took seriously Pauline authorship and 
accepted either that Paul drew upon a composition of his own or that 
the passage was a de novo work in exalted hymnic style. He also 
inclined to Seyoon Kim's thesis that Paul's wisdom christology was 
rooted more in the Damascus Road experience than in the Hellenistic 
Jewish wisdom theology of a Philo or of the Wisdom of Solomon. 

In contrast to Dunn's work, O'Brien argued for Christ's actual pre- 
existence. In O'Brien's words: "As the first title of majesty, 'image' 
emphasizes Christ's relation to God. The term points to his revealing 
of the Father on the one hand and his pre-existence on the other — it is 
both functional and ontological. 

Janusz Frankowski (1983) queried the various criteria which schol- 
ars advanced for the identification of preexisting hymns in the NT. He 
expressed a preference for regarding certain hymnic texts as composi- 
tions of the author of the works in which they appear. Frankowski 
also insisted that one must closely analyze the individual parts of the 
hymnic text in order to detect possible dependency upon other compo- 
sitions with regard to form and content. He observed that when this is 
done for Col 1:14-20 and Heb l:2b-4, we discover that "each author 
approaches the theme and formulates its expression in his own man- 
ner.' This led him to conclude that "in many other cases where there 
is talk of [a] hymn being quoted, we are in reality dealing with texts 
drawing upon existing themes but written in the form in which we find 

37 Ibid., 37. 
38 Ibid., 39. 
39 Ibid. 

40 Ibid., 41, 42. 
41 Ibid., 42. 
42 Ibid., 44. 

Early Christian Hymns Recorded in the New Testament: A Reconsideration of 
the Question in the light of Heb 1, 3," BZ 27 (1983) 183-94. 
^Ibid., 184. 
45 Ibid., 185. 
46 Ibid., 188. 


them in the New Testament by the authors of those respective works." 47 
The process which Frankowski envisioned was one in which familiar 
and traditional themes were borrowed and reworked by the pneumatic 
author in a poetic manner. He concluded his article with a rather pointed 
critique of the hitherto prevailing consensus: 

... we are under the impression that in many cases where exegetes to- 
day claim to have discovered in the NT writing early Christian hymns 
being quoted and try to restore them to their original form — by eliminat- 
ing some elements and adding others — they are doing once again pre- 
cisely what were doing the NT writers [sic]: they are simply composing 
their own hymns. 48 

The present writer entered the debate with an article in JETS in 
1983. Whereas the thesis that the passage was a hymn was provision- 
ally accepted, attention was also called to the disarray concerning 
arrangement, number of strophes and possible interpolations. With 
some caution the article opted for a three-strophe arrangement. My 
main objective was to argue for the Pauline authorship of the entire 
passage. Responding to arguments of unusual vocabulary, lack of per- 
sonal allusions in the passage, alleged differences in christology from 
Pauline theologumena, supposed liturgical settings and the unlikeli- 
hood that prison circumstances permitted the production of such an 
exacting and artfully constructed piece, I attempted to demonstrate the 
inadequacy of the above criteria to overturn what is still the decisive 
observation on the whole question. The theology of the passage "is so 
compatible with and adducible from uncontestably Pauline thought 
that the best hypothesis is also the simplest: Paul is the author." 

As to the religious background, Wisdom and Adam speculation 
account for some of the verbal parallels. As a comprehensive explana- 
tion for the hymn as we have it, however, one must resort to Kyrios 
christology whereby Christ assumes the predicates and prerogatives of 
Yahweh in the Old Testament. Parallels from the hymnic literature of 
Psalms strengthened this assertion. In sum, cosmic christology was 
implicit from the beginning of the primitive church by virtue of the 

47 Ibid., 191. 

48 Ibid., 194. 

49 Larry R. Helyer, Colossians 1:15-20: Pre-Pauline or Pauline?" JETS 26 (1983) 

50 Ibid., 168-70. 

51 Ibid., 172. This position was also argued by Pierre Benoit "L'Hymne Chris- 
tologique de Col 1.15-20," Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults: 
Studies for Morton Smith at Sixty (ed. J. Neusner; Leiden: Brill, 1975) 226. Frankowski's 
article was unavailable to me at the time though his approach was similar to mine. 


resurrection. 52 Paul Beasley-Murray, it will be remembered, had also 
argued for the importance of Kyrios christology. 


1983 also witnessed a major study of our passage which headed in 
an entirely different direction. Cesare Marcheselli Casale, by means of 
structural and redactional analysis, laid out an elaborate four-stage 
development of Col 1: 15-20. 53 The earliest stage he attributed to an 
early Christian, pre-Pauline community which produced a two-strophe 
hymn in the abc:a'b'c' pattern. 

a v.l5a He is the image of God, 

b v.l5b The firstborn of the entire creation, 

c v.l6a for in him all things were created. 

a' v.l8b He is the Beginning, 

b' v.18c the firstborn of the dead, 

c' v.19 for God desired to dwell in him with his entire fullness. 

His arguments in support of the above scheme were threefold: unusual 
vocabulary, compact literary unity, and a metrical structure with asso- 
nance designed as a mnemonic aid. The origin of this hymn was in the 
liturgy of the Colossian community which celebrated the cosmic pri- 
macy of Jesus. 54 

The second stage of development was an equally compact and 
concise textual unit which, on the basis of context, was identified as 
Hellenistic-Jewish. It consisted of the following: 

v.l6b All things that are in heaven and all things that are in earth 

c the visible and the invisible 

d thrones and dominions 

e Powers and authorities 

v.20b not only all things on earth but also all things in heaven 

v.l5a of the invisible 

Casale linked this material to Hellenistic views such as Philo which 
betray a Platonic influence. The redactor of the hymn incorporated this 
Hellenistic-Jewish tradition into the hymn. 55 

52 Ibid., 172-77. 
"Der Christologische Hymnus: Kol 1, 15-20 im Dienste Der Versohnung und 
Des Friedens," Teresianum 40 (1989) 3-21. Italian original RivB 31 (1983). 

Ibid., 5, 6. 
Ibid., 7, 8. 


The third stage comprised the following: 

16f All things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon earth 

17a And he is before all creation 

b and in him all things have existence 

18a And he is the head of the body. 

d in order to have the preeminence in all things. 

20a God was pleased through him to reconcile to himself all things 

20b. 1 through him who has established peace 

b.2 through him 

This stage, which stood as an independent unit joined by parataxis and 
which harmonized the earlier stages Casale traced to Pauline teaching. 
The fourth and final stage comprised the following parts of verses: 

18a the church 

18c from the dead 

20b. 1 through the blood of the cross 

Here we have from the hand of Paul himself some modifications 
which brought the content in line with the Pauline kerygma. Thus we 
have, according to Casale, an important indication how the early 
church of Colossae — perhaps with the consent of Paul — had taken 
over and reformulated elements of the Christian culture of that time. 
Casale's approach might be considered a highly nuanced variation of 
O'Neill's thesis. According to Casale, the end result is a "considerable 
redactional achievement." 57 


In 1984 F. F. Bruce contributed two works on Colossians, an 
updated volume on Colossians in The New International Commentary 
series and an article in Bibliotheca Sacra. We will use the latter as the 
basis for our discussion. Bruce was cautious about the genre ques- 
tion. He acknowledged that the passage might be a hymn. With 
regard to authorship, he thought that more probably the hymn was 
composed in the circle of the Pauline churches. In any case, the con- 
tent was agreeable to Paul. On the question of structure he favored 
two-strophes with a transitional link (vv. 17- 18a) in agreement with 

56 Ibid., 8. 
57 Ibid., 9. 

58 F. F. Bruce, "The 'Christ Hymn' of Colossians 1:15-20," Bib Sac 141 (1984) 

59 Ibid., 99, 100, 105. 
60 Ibid., 100, 105. 


Benoit. 61 As to the background, Bruce singled out the influence of Old 
Testament Wisdom teaching, the impact of Paul's conversion experi- 
ence, the OT teaching in Ps 89:27 whereby the son of David is equated 
with "firsborn of the kings," and Genesis one. While he acknowl- 
edged affinities to Stoic terminology, Stoicism was not the real tap root 
of the hymn. Bruce also strongly resisted the notion that the original 
hymn spoke of the cosmic body glossed by Paul as the Church. 63 In his 
words, "there is no good reason to suppose that the hymn at any stage 
bore a different meaning from what it bears in the context of the Letter 
to the Colossians. Bruce's views are at considerable distance from 
those of Casale and are very close to those of Peter O'Brien; indeed, 
the latter was a student of Bruce's at Manchester. 


In 1985 two more evangelical scholars made significant contribu- 
tions to the scholarly study of Col 1:15-20, one in Great Britain and 
the other in the United States. John F. Balchin, writing in Vox Evan- 
gelica, attacked head-on the consensus that the passage is a hymn. 
His conclusion was forthrightly stated: 

We have no actual parallel anywhere in ancient literature, Christian, Jew- 
ish or pagan, which justifies our using the description of 'hymn' for the 
passage as it stands, or for any of its scholarly redactions. We are actually 
ignorant of the ground-rules of early Christian liturgy. We cannot even 
demonstrate that there was any fixity of form as early as this letter. 66 

Balchin's article is a meticulous critique of the various arguments used 
to support the hymn hypothesis. 

1. The stylistic argument that an author does not appreciably alter his/ 
her style from one work to another lacks conviction and evidence. 67 

2. The parallelism of the passage demonstrates not a perfectly bal- 
anced hymnic structure but a Semitic mind influenced by the paral- 
lelism of the OT. Thus, the excessive terms in the present passage 
which destroy a precise parallelism require interpolation and exci- 
sion theories in order to salvage the hypothesis. 68 

61 Ibid., 100, n. 2. 
62 Ibid., 100, 101. 
63 Ibid., 103. 
M Ibid., 108. 

65 John F. Balchin, "Colossians 1:15-20: An Early Christian Hymn? The Argu- 
ments from Style," Vox Evangelica 15 (1985) 65-94. 
66 Ibid., 87. 
67 Ibid., 66. 
68 Ibid., 68. 


3. The so-called introductory formulae are not clear indicators of quot- 
ed material, but quite consistent with Pauline usage elsewhere in 
which there is no question of any liturgical connotation. 

4. The argument from unusual or rare vocabulary falls considerably 
short of demonstration. All the words in our passage except 
d7ioKaxa?iXd£,ai are found in the NT, LXX or were widely used in the 


NT era. The latter term may well be a Pauline coinage. Further- 
more, as Balchin notes: 

The real weakness of arguments based on words which are hapax lego- 
mena is the fact that our New Testament is only a partial collection of 
the occasional writings of its authors. In spite of the extent of Paul's 
work, we have no exhaustive, definitive Pauline vocabulary. 71 

5. Balchin examined the assumptions underlying other criteria for de- 
tection of hymns such as: contextual dislocation, christological con- 
tent, syllable counts, strophic arrangement and chiastic structure. In 
each case he concluded that the evidence appealed to may more eas- 


ily fit alternative explanations. Indeed, he showed that the hymn 
hypothesis can only sustain itself when one invokes interpolations 
by the writer of the letter. But if this is so, why would Paul bother 
to cite something which required him to make such radical alter- 
ations? According to Balchin, "this is a question which has either 
not been asked, or has never been satisfactorily answered by those 
who argue for an edited hymn." In this we hear the echoes of 
O'Neill's earlier work. Finally, with regard to chiastic arrangement, 
Balchin acknowledged that Paul, doubtless owing to his Old Testa- 
ment background, did employ chiasm in some of his writings. He 
was skeptical, however, that Col 1:15-20 was so constructed. 

It is precisely the issue of chiasm which Balchin's counterpart, 
Steven Baugh took up in his study which appeared in the Westminster 


Theological Journal. Baugh's argument may be set out as follows: 

1. The existing text does not possess the characteristics of modern 
hymns. Baugh prefers the designation "poem." 7 

69 Ibid., 69, 70. 

70 Ibid., 71. 

71 Ibid., 72, 73. 

72 Ibid., 74-86. 

73 Ibid., 81. 

74 Ibid., 86. 

75 Steven M. Baugh, "The Poetic Form of Col 1:15-20," WTJ 47 (1985) 227-44. 

76 Ibid., 217. 


2. Paul spontaneously composed the passage. 1 Cor 13 and Rom 
11:33-36, unquestionably Pauline, likewise display exalted poetry 


involving chiasms. 

3. The structure of the poem consists of an intricate chiasm in which a 
xyz/x'z'y' inner structure is encased within an over-arching ABC- 
B'A' pattern. Such a variation of the second member of the inner set 
has Old Testament exemplars. 7 

4. The focus of the poem is the C element in v. 17b: "And all things 
continue to exist in him." In this he agreed with and acknowledged 
the work of Paul Beasley-Murray. 

5. He concluded that "it is fitting that a poem inspired by the torrent of 
the revelation of God in Christ Jesus should follow the poetic wadi 
carved out by the Old Covenant revelation." 


1986 saw the publication of Nicholas Wright's commentary on 
Colossians and Philemon. In 1990 he followed this up with a more 
specialized study of Col 1:15-20. We will consider these together. 

On the genre question, Wright followed the tack of O'Neill, 
Frankowski, Balchin and Baugh in denying that we have a hymn per se. 
He preferred the designation "poem." He argued that the theology of 
the poem as a whole accords best with Pauline authorship. As to struc- 
ture, Wright followed closely Baugh's chiastic arrangement and did not 
delete any words or phrases as Pauline interpolations or additions. 

Wright critiqued the Gnostic redeemer-myth and the Jewish Wis- 


dom hypothesis as inadequate to account for the poem as a whole. He 
saw the matrix of the hymn as mainline Jewish monotheism. The pattern 
observable in the hymn crops up in many Psalms (as I had pointed out 
earlier) and in the structure of the Pentateuch as well as Isaiah 40-55, 
namely, creation-redemption. Thus the wisdom-traditions, according 
to Wright, even in their apocalyptic developments, function within the 
broader context of Jewish monotheism. 87 

77 Ibid., 228, n. 6 

78 Ibid., 231-39. 

79 Ibid., 237. 

80 Ibid., 244. 
N. T. Wright, The Epistles of Paul to the Colossians and to Philemon (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989) and "Poetry and Theology in Colossians 1.15-20," NTS 36 
(1990) 444-68. 

%2 Colossians, 64; "Poetry," 444. 

83 "Poetry," 464. 

84 Ibid., 445-48. 

85 Ibid., 451,452. 

86 Ibid., 452. 

87 Ibid., 454-55. 


Interestingly, Wright, as had Manns and Pollard, refurbished C. F. 
Burney's thesis in explaining how the poem was composed. Wright 
showed that Burney overlooked the importance of dpxrj (18c) and 
failed to appreciate the significance of sikcov despite its appearance in 
Gen 1:26; Wis 7:26 and Col 1:15a. Taking these two terms into 
account we have the following possible meanings of ITttWT which pro- 
vided the skeleton for the entire poem: 

A He is the image-the firstborn 

B He is supreme 

B He is the Head 

A He is the beginning 

Thus we have a chiastic structure (as argued by Baugh) in which the 
four meanings correspond to the four parts of the poem. Wright fur- 
ther argued that the weight of the above sequence fell on the last term 
apxr\ which drew attention to the climatic part of the poem, namely, 
the creation of a new people of God through the cross and resurrection 
of Jesus. In short, Wright claimed that "Burney's basic insight was 
indeed sound. . . . 

In contrast to Dunn and Pollard, who fell short of ascribing an 
ontological pre-existence to Christ, Wright countered with a carefully 
nuanced position. He agreed with Dunn and Pollard that the sIkoov title 
in v. 15a referred to the risen and exalted man Jesus, but that in no way 
ruled out his being God's agent in creation before he assumed his 
human nature. 


Our last researcher is Jarl Fossum (1989). Fossum apparently 
accepted the designation of "hymn" for our passage. 92 He was not 
really concerned with the authorship question and contended that the 
issue was not relevant to his paper. Fossum accepted a two-stanza 
structure although he voiced some concern for the rather subjective 
nature of all such attempts to arrange the passage into strophes. 

Fossum's article focused on the history-of-religions background. 
He acknowledged that Kasemann's Gnostic Urmensch-Erloser had 

88 Ibid., 456-57. 
89 Ibid., 458. 
90 Ibid., 461. 

91 Jarl Fossum, "Colossians 1.1 5- 18a in the Light of Jewish Mysticism and Gnos- 
ticism," NTS 35 (1989) 183-201. 
92 Ibid., 183-85. 
93 Ibid., 185. 
94 Ibid. 


fallen on hard times. Furthermore, an Adam christology failed to 
provide a complete explanation because "Adam is said to have been 
made in or after God's image; he is not that image." 96 He likewise 
found Sophia-Christology as in Wis 7:26 wanting because it too did 
not precisely equate Sophia with the image of God — in the latter 
instance Sophia was said to be an image of God's (perfect) goodness, 
which, according to Fossum, "is not the same thing.' Appeal to Phi- 
lo's Sophia-Logos descriptions were also inadequate because "Philo's 
intermediary is recognized to be a highly complex figure, and so we 
would have to ask whether Philo actually testifies to the same tradition 
as that found in the Gnostic texts." On this basis Fossum proposed to 
reinvestigate the Gnostic traditions to see if we might find a more ade- 
quate explanation for this terminology. 

Fossum then conducted an interesting foray through various Jew- 
ish and Gnostic sources. A presupposition which guided this search 
was that "Gnosticism was not only roughly contemporary with infant 
Christianity; it also had arisen out of the same matrix. It thus stands to 
reason that the New Testament is found to contain terms and motifs 
which have equivalents in Gnostic texts." Irenaeus' account of Sator- 
nil of the school of Simon Magus provided a starting-point. Here we 
have the body of man made by the angels as the "shining image" or 
"likeness" of God. This was compared to the Nag Hammadi tractate 
Orig. World where a similar teaching occurs. 100 This in turn was com- 
pared to Jewish Kabbalistic texts. Fossum drew this all together in the 
following synthesis: 

Kabbalism can be viewed as a revival of mythology on Jewish soil. In 
this respect, however, Kabbalism was preceded by Gnosticism by centu- 
ries, for in Gnosticism, too, the mythology which was suppressed by 
Pharisaic Rabbinism crops up again. The same mythology would seem 
to have played a role in the formation of certain New Testament terms 
and themes, and it may be right to relate the conception of Christ as the 
'image of the invisible God' to the Gnostic (and Jewish mystical) hy- 
postatization of the divine image in Gen 1:26. 101 

To the above, a wide range of sources — some early, some late — were 
canvased. These include snippets from Exagoge (Ezekiel the Tragedian), 
Aristobulus (fragment preserved by Eusebius), The Prayer of Joseph 

95 Ibid., 183. 

96 Ibid., 185. 

97 Ibid., 187. 

98 Ibid. 

"ibid., 184. 

100 Ibid., 186. 

101 Ibid., 186, 187. 


(preserved by Origen), the Visions of Ezekiel, Ma'aseh Merkabah, 
Teach. Silv., Eugnostos, Gos. Eg., Poimandres, Abot R. Nat:, Shi'ur 
Qomah, 2 Enoch and the Book of Elchasai all of which are drawn upon 
to illustrate some facet of the hymn in Col 1:15- 18a. Fossum con- 
cluded that "the hymn actually seems to bear witness to an Anthropos- 
Christology rather than a Sophia-Christology. 


We now summarize our survey. Clearly the consensus of the 60s 
and 70s came under heavy assault during the 80s and crumbled. In its 
place, among mainline scholars, exists a rather wide spectrum of opin- 
ion and hypothesis. Increasingly, scholars of all stripes are casting 
doubt on the designation of "hymn" for our passage. The confidence 
with which many reconstructed and rearranged the putative hymn has 
been replaced by many with caution or skepticism, although a few 
push the methodological limitations of redaction criticism to a point 
calling into question the credibility of the entire enterprise (e.g. 

Among evangelicals, however, something more like a consensus 
seems to be emerging. On the question of genre, though some still 
accept the category of hymn, the trend appears to be toward a more 
broad classification like "poem." Furthermore, a consensus appears to 
support the notion of Pauline authorship for the entire passage. This 
does not appear to proceed from an a priori assumption that such a 
position is required by a high view of Scripture, but rather, it simply 
accords best with the evidence. Support also seems to be growing for 
the recognition of a deliberate chiastic structure. 

There also seems to be increasing agreement that Paul's cosmic 
christology is rooted in the OT teaching of a creator-redeemer God and 
Paul's personal encounter with Jesus the Lord on the Damascus Road. 
These fundamental data, however, may well have been facilitated in 
expression by Adam and Wisdom theology mediated through first cen- 
tury Judaism. In any case, we have the theology of Paul before us in 
this incomparable passage. 

Finally, there also appears to be increasing support among evan- 
gelical (and even some mainline) scholars for the older view of C. F. 
Burney that the passage represents a midrashic interpretation of Gen 
1:1 by means of Prov 8:22. In my opinion N. T. Wright's reformulation 
and restatement of Burney's thesis is quite convincing. I would now 
identify my own view with that position. 

102 Ibid., 190-201. 
103 Ibid., 201. 


In retrospect, Eduard Norden's form critical analysis in 1913 and 
Ernst Lohmeyer's further elaboration in 1930 leading to the conclusion 
that we have an early Christian hymn in Col 1:15-20 has been a red 
herring which has drawn attention away from the main task at hand. 
Enormous time and energy have been expended in the vain attempt to 
recover, rearrange and explain the original hymn and its background. 
All the while, attention should have been placed on the content of this 
passage as the profound culmination of the Apostle Paul's theology — 
cosmic christology. 

Grace Theological Journal 12.1 (1992) 69-97 


Gale Z. Heide 

In the contemporary debate concerning sahific essentials, James 
2:14 has serxed as a focal point for discussion. In the following study, 
the endeavor is made to allow the context of James to provide the key 
indicators on how saving faith should here be understood. The eternal 
ramifications of James 2:14 are most evident when the intent of James 
is discussed as it relates to the audience he has in mind. James is not 
merely concerned with some type of temporal blessing in 2:14. In- 
stead, he is burdened over the very eternal existence of some people 
who are in his pastoral care. 

In times past, the book of James has become the subject of signifi- 
cant debate (such as in the time of Martin Luther), but by and large, 
it has been passed over in favor of "more theological*" or "more impor- 
tant" books with respect to the Christian faith. This is an unfortunate 
thing to say of any book, and especially of one so close to the pulse of 
the early church. There has. however, been an awakening of sorts 
lately as to the vitality of the book of James. Unfortunately, this awak- 
ening is largely due to a theological debate in contemporary evangeli- 
cal circles that centers in part around the interpretation of one 
particular passage in James, namely James 2:14. This debate is often 
called, among other things, the "Lordship salvation" controversy. It 
relates directly to the understanding of the relationship between salva- 
tion and sanctification. Within this debate, there are often appeals 
made to a given understanding of how James views the relationship, or 
defines the substance, of salvation and sanctification. Underlying many 
of these appeals are varying assumptions as to the interpretation of cer- 
tain passages. 

Amidst the many references made to the book of James in the 
debate, specific exegetical explanation is seldom given for the under- 
standing espoused. Instead, the reader is presumed upon to accept the 
assumptions that underlie the interpretation being set forth. In light of 
this, the question must be raised whether the assumptions being made 
in relation to James 2:14 are in fact valid. It is the intention of this 


paper to expose such assumptions and critique them in an endeavor to 
come to a clearer understanding of just what is the author's intended 
meaning in this text. 


The specific issue to be addressed here centers around the 
intended meaning of the verb ow^co — "to save" — in 2:14. The first half 
of this study will endeavor to develop a clear understanding of James 
2:14. We will first discuss the various options of meaning for the verb 
gco^w by itself, and next discuss the context that surrounds 2:14. Fol- 
lowing this, we shall undertake to relate the meaning of the word 
within the surrounding context. Much of this process has clearly been 
done for us and is available in various commentaries and journal 
articles. However, the theological dynamic in James' use of oto^co is 
regularly given little more attention than a brief definition, if men- 
tioned at all, in most contemporary studies. The intention of this sec- 
tion in the study is to build upon and draw together what has been 
written, and at the same time develop a logically coherent understand- 
ing of 2:14 that agrees exegetically with the thought of James in the 

'There is a long-standing tradition, which this study delineates in further detail in 
the paragraphs below, concerning the interpretation of this passage as is best represented 
by the following authors: James B. Adamson, James: The Man and His Message (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), John Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles: James 
(trans, and ed. John Owen; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), Peter H. Davids, Commen- 
tary on James (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), John P. Lange, Commentary on 
the Holy Scriptures: James-Revelation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960), R. C. H. Len- 
ski, Interpretation of Hebrews and James (Columbus: Wartburg, 1946), Thomas Manton, 
An Exposition of the Epistle of James (Evansville: Sovereign Grace, 1962), Ralph P. 
Martin, James (WBC; Waco: Word Books, 1988), James B. Mayor, The Epistle of St. 
James (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale New Testament Com- 
mentaries: The Letter of James (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), and James H. Ropes, 
Epistle of St. James (ICC; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916). 

There are also various journal articles worth mentioning that have developed the 
salvation theme of James 2:14 in some fashion. They are best represented by the follow- 
ing authors: Christoph Burchard, "Zu Jakobus 2:14-26," Zeitschrift furdie Neutesta- 
mentliche Wissenschaft 71/1/2 (1980) 27-45, William Dyrness, "Mercy triumphs over 
justice: James 2:13 and the theology of faith and works," Themelios 6/3 (April, 1981) 
11-16, Simon J. Kistemaker, "The Theological Message of James," JETS 29/1 (March, 
1986) 55-61, John F. MacArthur, Jr., "Faith According to the Apostle James," JETS 33/ 
1 (March, 1990) 13-34, John Polhill, "Prejudice, Partiality, and Faith: James 2," RevExp 
83/3 (Summer, 1986) 395-404, Robert V. Rakestraw, "James 2:14-26: Does James con- 
tradict Pauline Soteriology?" Criswell Theological Review 1/1 (Fall, 1986) 31-50, and 
Michael J. Townsend, "Christ, Community, and Salvation in the Epistle of James," EvQ 
53/2 (April-June, 1981) 115-23. 

2 While not true of every study, many relied on generally accepted definitions and 
rarely made any attempt to support the definitions in detail. There were a number of ref- 
erences given in support, but unfortunately, the studies often simply referred to each other. 


context of the book. This seems to be an especially urgent task in light 
of the recent debate concerning the understanding of this passage. 

The latter half of the study will deal directly with those who are 
opposed to the traditional interpretation of James 2:14, which under- 
stands James to be speaking of eternal salvation, by answering some of 
the objections they have made to this author's understanding of the 
text. Such a response has not been given any legitimate consideration 
in previous studies dealing with the theological development of James 
2:14. In the past, the articles attempting to deal with this issue have 
given, at best, brief mention of the variant view, which understands 
James to be speaking of a very temporal salvation. That is, there seems 
to have been little effort given to deal with the variant interpretation in 
full. 4 This author's study is intended to fill the ever widening gap. The 
discussion set forth in this latter section will provide the reader with 
the much needed construction of a response to the variant view causing 
such great contention regarding the book of James. 

Some of the questions that ultimately need to be answered in such 
a study are these: What is the meaning of oco^w? From what is the per- 
son in question to be saved? How are works related to this salvation? 
How is faith related to this salvation? What type of faith is in view? 
All these and more will be answered or given reasonable consideration 
in the following discussion, while focusing attention primarily on the 
meaning of aw^co within its context in James 2:14. 

3 It may be worthwhile to note that there is relatively small representation of those 
who have objected in written form to the view of James as it is understood in this study. 
The only major interpretive statements available are sections in Zane Hodges' The Gos- 
pel Under Siege (Dallas: Redencion Viva, 1981) and Absolutely Free (Dallas: Redencion 
Viva, 1989), and the brief booklet 'Dead Faith' What is It? A Study on James 2:14-26 
(Dallas: Redencion Viva, 1987) by the same author. Earl D. Radmacher seems to be ad- 
vocating the same position in his brief article "First Response to 'Faith According to the 
Apostle James' by John F. MacArthur, Jr.," JETS 33/1 (March, 1990) 35-41. There is 
also a brief outline of a view similar to Hodges' in R. T. Kendall's Once Saved, Always 
Saved (Chicago: Moody, 1985) 207-17. However, there are many who would agree with 
the objections at a more popular level. For these reasons it is crucial that we answer all 
the objections arising to the view of this study, but it is nonetheless unfortunate that they 
are not represented by more substantial documentation. 

4 Most major works on James have not attempted a response. This is somewhat un- 
derstandable since the few articles that do attend to the issue are mainly book reviews 
which mention the view only in passing. The most complete of these is William G. 
Bjork, "A Critique of Zane Hodges' The Gospel Under Siege, A review Article," JETS 
30/4 (December, 1987) 457-60. Others that also mention the issue are Johnny V. Miller, 
"Book Reviews," Trinity Journal 4NS/1 (Spring, 1983) 94, and R. F. White, "Book Re- 
views," WTJ 46/2 (Fall, 1984) 428. The one possible exception is the response of Mac- 
Arthur, who does give a brief rebuttal of Hodges (MacArthur, "Faith" 28-32). However, 
he does not deal with Hodges' viewpoint in the depth that is necessary for a definitive 



In a study of this nature and scope, there are necessarily some 
assumptions that will be made. Let us briefly describe these assump- 
tions before we address the task at hand. James was written by the 
half-brother of Jesus who was also an authoritative leader in the Jeru- 
salem church. It was most likely written before the Jerusalem council, 
probably around 45-47 a.d. This is best supported by the lack of ref- 
erences to the council and the early death of the author. It is also 
assumed that the letter is written to Christian Jews that are scattered 
abroad. This is argued by the use of the word "brother" when address- 
ing the audience and by the reference to the "twelve tribes of the 
diaspora." With these assumptions in mind, we shall begin our study. 


The first portion of our discussion will entail outlining the pos- 
sible options of meaning that the verb crco^co may take in any given 
context. The various lexica representing the relevant periods of history 
surrounding the time in which the letter of James was written provide 
us with a veritable gamut of possibilities for meaning. We shall begin 
with an analysis of them and their respective definitions, then mention 
briefly other possible influences. 

The Classical period gives some insight into the original Greek 
usage of the word cto^to as authors such as Plato, Homer, Plutarch, and 
others used it in varying contexts. The range of meaning derived from 
a study of this period depicts references centered mainly around physi- 
cal deliverance from a present reality with occasional reference to an 
eternal salvation. 5 

The New Testament period is of course the most relevant to our 
study at hand. The meanings represented by authors of this time, most 
prevalently the New Testament authors themselves, seem to divide 
amongst three emphases. The first being mainly an eternal or eschato- 
logical salvation, the second referring to a preservation from physical 

5 The Classical period, as represented by Liddell and Scott, presents four options 
that the verb oco^w may mean in a given context (H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, The Greek 
English Lexicon [New York: Harper, 1882] 1748). The first definition relates to persons 
being saved from death, kept alive, and escaping destruction. The second definition re- 
lates to things being kept safe or preserved. The third relates to keeping, observing, or 
maintaining something, such as a law. The fourth deals with keeping something in mind 
or remembering. All these definitions appear to have present realities in mind and do not 
refer specifically to an eternal perspective of salvation. This is not to say that such a con- 
notation could not be inferred from the use of this verb, but it appears not to be a common 
usage in Classical literature. Cf. also Colin Brown, The New International Dictionary of 
New Testament Theology, Volume 3 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978) 205-6, and 
Werner Foerster, TDNT: Volume VII (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) 965-69. 


harm or destruction, and the third referring to a combination of the 
two. 6 

The Patristics seemed to be narrowed to only two options. They 


are the eternal and the physical used exclusive of each other. 

It may be helpful to this study to understand the Septuagintal 
(LXX) usage of aco^co as it represents various Hebrew texts. In the 
LXX, gco^g) was used to translate many verbs, but two in particular 
seem to stand out as most relevant. They are V^ and oVb. Each verb 
takes physical deliverance as its main referent, but can have a spiritual 
sense included over and above physical deliverance. There are no 
usages of these verbs referring exclusively to a spiritual state of salva- 
tion, but they can at times express this as their main emphasis. Such an 
emphasis is often found in prophetic passages. 

This can help us in establishing the etymological development of 
aco^co down through the time of the LXX and into the New Testament 
usage where the LXX was still referenced extensively. There had been 
adequate representation of the spiritual and eternal deliverance prior to 
the New Testament, but much of the emphasis was on present physical 
preservation as stated above. This understanding of LXX usage does 
not dictate the meaning in James, but it does provide us with a context 
of the development of the term during the writing of the New Testa- 
ment, especially an early book like James. 

6 The New Testament period is best represented by W. Bauer, trans, by W. Arndt, 
and F. W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early 
Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952) 798-99. This particu- 
lar lexicon gives us three distinct definitional possibilities for aco^w. These are the pres- 
ervation from natural dangers, the preservation from eternal death, and a combination of 
both categories. Preservation from natural dangers includes being saved from death, 
brought out safely, freed from disease, preserved in good condition, and a form of greet- 
ing that wishes prosperity to the recipient. Preservation from eternal death was used in 
both the active and passive voice. It was used in the active to denote the saving activity 
of persons, especially God or Christ, and of qualities that lead to salvation. The use of 
oco^co in the passive voice denoted being saved or the attainment of salvation. The com- 
bination of these two areas had both the eternal and present perspective in mind. Much 
evidence is given for the emphasis of the eternal nature of salvation, particularly in 
James' use of the verb, by Colin Brown and J. Schneider, New International Dictionary 
211-16, and Werner Foerster, TDNT 989-98. 

The Patristic period, as represented by Lampe, seems to have been characterized 
by only two definitional variants for ctco^co (G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon 
[Oxford: Clarendon, 1961] 1361-62). The first is a general reference of being saved 
from sickness or physical constraints. The second definition addressed the salvation that 
is given by God, the objects of God's salvation, and the means of salvation. 

8 For a brief lexical description of each, see Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and 
Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew-English Lexicon with an Appendix Containing the Biblical 
Aramaic (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1979) 446-47 (S^ 1 ), and 572 (tt"7»). 

9 For a full development of the meanings found in the LXX, see Brown, New Inter- 
national Dictionary, 206-11, and Georg Fohrer, TDNT 970-80. 


We have viewed the various options in meaning for aw^to and it 
seems possible to narrow them down to just three fairly general 
usages, namely, 1) with reference to salvation from some type of natu- 
ral danger, 2) eternal salvation or some facet thereof, and 3) a combi- 
nation of these two. Certainly all the usages would have been known 
by James' readers. We must remember that this is not a grocery list 
from which to choose; it only helps us to better understand our 
options. The emphasis in determining meaning must be upon the usage 
of the word in its context. With this in mind, we must now turn our 
attention to the context in which 2:14 is set. 


Verse 14 of chapter 2 may be translated as follows: "What is the 
use, my brothers, if a certain one should say he has faith, but does not 
have works? Is that faith able to save him?" (the expected answer 
being no). 10 Our task is to relate what meaning the word save (aw^w) 
might take on in such a context. Is this salvation from some present 
hazard or misfortune, or is it salvation from eternal damnation, or is it 
possibly a combination of the two? The pattern that will be followed in 
this section is to look first at the centerpoint of the passage and expand 
to every point of reference that encircles the passage. The study begins 
with an examination of 2:14 itself, then gradually moves outward into 
the surrounding context of the book of James, and culminates with a 
brief section related to the historical setting encompassing the situation 
of James and the early church. 

James 2:14 

What is James saying when he pens 2:14? Obviously, he does not 
see much use to faith that does not have accompanying works. But 
what exactly does this faith entail? Does James see this faith being so 
weak as to result in forfeiting one's salvation and losing the confidence 
of eternal life with Christ? If we look at the form of argumentation that 
James is using, loss of salvation does not seem to be the point that he 
is making. What then is the point? As we examine James 2:14 more 
closely, he seems to speak of this faith unto salvation as something 
which one enters into initially. The emphasis he seems to make is an 
appeal for the reader to begin to exercise faith that will be able to save, 
not to continue to maintain a faith that could possibly be lost. Let us 
observe how this is expressed in the verse. 

10 The grammatical construction of this question includes the negative participle 
ur), thereby expressing James' expectance of a negative answer to the question. Cf. H. E. 
Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New 
York: Macmillan, 1955) 265-66. 


James begins his argument by asking a pragmatic question, "What 
is the use ..." or "What is the advantage. ..." We must first deter- 
mine for whom the advantage is intended. Interestingly, there seems to 
be both a primary and a secondary advantage evidenced in the passage. 
The secondary advantage appears to be the benefit of others. This is 
especially true if we look at the next two verses where the same phrase 
is used to describe the profit that comes to the brother or sister who is 
sent away without clothing and in need of food. This is a very immedi- 
ate reflection of the benefits of faith, or the lack thereof. But also evi- 
dent is the primary advantage that is to be gained by the "one saying 
he has faith." This seems to agree best with the statement that directly 
follows the qualification of "no works," "Is that faith able to save 
himT Ultimately, the primary usefulness that is in view is the advan- 
tage to the man who says he has faith. The advantage that James points 
out as the most prevalent is this man's salvation. The primary grounds 
of benefit to be found in this faith must be in whether or not it can pre- 
serve him in a future judgement. 

James now focuses his attention on the man in question. It is 
important to remember that James is using a form of argumentation 
that does not directly point toward the people to whom he wants to 
convey this message. It is a form of rhetorical argument known as dia- 
tribe that gets its point across without necessarily naming the ones in 

1 ^ 

question. This is best evidenced here when he uses the supposed 
"man who says he has faith" and distinguishes him from the brothers, 
asking, "What use is it, my brothers, if a certain man . . . ?" This 
method of argumentation also uses short questions that make a point 
indirectly, as demonstrated in the question of usefulness, and in the 
phrase "Is that faith able to save him?" However, it must be remem- 
bered that James is intending this argument to be pointed toward cer- 
tain ones amongst the brothers who are guilty of the problem. He 
shows this later in verse 16 where he uses the words "one from among 

1 Sophie Laws, Harper's New Testament Commentaries: The Epistle of James 
(San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980) 119. 

12 It is argued by Kendall that the outov used in 2:14 is necessarily referring to the 
Tixcoxov who was mentioned in 2:6 (Kendall, Once Saved 207-17). This seems to strain 
much of accepted Greek syntax when there is a much more likely referent found in the 
immediate context of 2:14. To stretch the antecedent of this pronoun to 2:6 seems to be 
an unwarranted presupposition, especially since James feels it necessary to refer to the 
poor again in 2:15-16. It is also interesting to note that outov is masculine, accusative, 
singular (movable v is unlikely). James illustrates his concept of the poor in 2:15 as in- 
cluding both male and female. It seems awkward to say that James has changed his un- 
derstanding of referents for auxov between 2:14 and 2:15-16 when 2:15-16 is a direct 
illustration of 2:14. 

13 For a further discussion of 'diatribe' see Adamson, James 103-4, or Martin 
Dibelius, A Commentary on the Epistle of James (rev. H. Greeven and ed. H. Koester; 
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976) 150ff. 


you" and returns to addressing them directly as the guilty parties. The 
argumentation of James does not make its point of reference someone 
outside the group to which he is speaking, but rather finds its audience 
within the group. The man that James states "says he has faith" must 
be found within the intended audience of the letter. Could it be said 
that James is simply drawing an analogy similar to what the believers 
might be experiencing with someone outside of their fellowship? This 
would allow for the possible translation of tic, to be any man. If we 
take the statement exclusive of the context, this is a plausible argu- 
ment. However, James is not leaving the identity of the intended man 
so obscure. He identifies the workless faith of "those from among you" 
as equally useless and insufficient for salvation. This means that James 
is associating the man with the group of believers. He is one who pro- 
fesses faith in Christ, and in fact this is what James states, "If a man 
says he has faith," ultimately referencing the same faith that is men- 
tioned in 2:1, "faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ." This associa- 
tion with the audience of believers makes tic, seem more specific and is 
better understood to refer to a certain man. James is not stating that the 
man is a true believer; in fact the distinction between a believer and 
this man is the intent of James' singling him out. But James does 
understand him to be within the group of professing believers. 

The syntactical construction of the phrase "If a certain man says 
he has faith" is somewhat helpful in understanding the meaning here as 
well. The third class conditional clause used with the subjunctive 
mood would indicate that there is a probable future condition in the 
mind of the author. James views this individual as one who will claim 
to have faith. James uses the probable future condition to establish 
what he believes to be the position of the "certain man," but he is not 
willing to accept this claim at face value. He rejects the presence of 
true faith by measuring it according to its lack of works. James' use of 
the probable future condition sets up the position of a hypothetical 
man whom he expects to be found within the intended audience of the 
letter. James can then take issue with what he understands to be a fal- 
lacious claim. James uses the third class conditional protasis and the 
subjunctive mood to establish a position on which he then casts much 
doubt. 14 

It may be quite appropriate to comment here on the doubt that 
James is implying. He is not necessarily making a dogmatic claim as to 
the profession of faith not being true, but he is also not taking this pro- 
fession at face value. It would be quite proper for James to make some 
allowance and even use hypothetical argumentation since he is evi- 

14 A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament: Volume VI (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1933) 33-34. 


dently separated from most of the Christian Jews who will read this 
letter. But it is also quite appropriate for him to convey a certain 
amount of convictional and even judgmental authority due to his posi- 
tion in the church and the responsibilities that position would entail. 
James is making every effort to define for his readers the type of faith 
by which he expects them to be saved. 

It may well be asked whether the faith in view is a faith in the 
saving work of Christ or simply a faith that the man in question has in 
his mind as a possible mere intellectual assent expressed in a lifeless 
proclamation or creed. James has used the word faith four times in the 
previous context: first, in relation to testing it through the endurance of 
trials (1:2-4); second, he uses it in the context of asking in faith and 
not having any doubt (1:6); third, he uses it in relation to how it is 
viewed with respect to others (2:1); and fourth, he uses it to describe 
the poor whom God had chosen to be rich in faith and heirs of the 
kingdom (2:5). All four of these usages seem to have the true faith that 
is unto eternal salvation in mind, even though they may be used in a 
very pragmatic sense. This is especially true of the second usage 
which is qualified by the phrase "in our Lord Jesus Christ," and the 
fourth usage which relates to those chosen by God to be the heirs of 
the kingdom. James has assumed all of these usages to contain true 
faith and he does not change his view of the essence of faith in 2:14- 
26. True faith is that which is expressed by Abraham and Rahab. These 
are set in contrast with the man who "says" he has faith. The under- 
standing that James has of saving faith does not change in this passage. 
However, the man in question evidently has a different view of faith 
than what James understands faith to be. There is not something 

15 James H. Ropes, James 203. 

I6 This explains why James centers on this man's proclamation of faith as distinct 
from his own definition of authentic faith. Cf. Calvin, James 309-10, and Polhill, "Prej- 
udice" 400-401. James is not necessarily viewing this statement in 2:14 as a different 
kind of faith, rather he sees it as true faith being misrepresented. The man in question 
evidently has a view of faith that is not complete. Davids describes this use of James 
phrasing as having a different definitional quality (Peter H. Davids, "Theological Per- 
spectives on the Epistle of James" JETS 23/2 [June, 1980] 102-3). Later in the develop- 
ment of this thought, he explains that James is using the definitional qualities to make 
the distinction between true faith that acts and false faith that does not act. This would 
certainly seem to fit with the way that the man's faith is granted for the sake of argument, 
but James does not see it going any further than that when he states that it will not 
"save" and in reality is non-existent, or "dead." Calvin also makes a distinction between 
the two faiths when he speaks of Jesus not entrusting Himself to those who only believed 
on His miracles in John 2:23 (John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel according to 
John [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948] 100-101). MacArthur also gives a description of 
the distinctives made between various types of faith (MacArthur, "Faith" 22-23). Huther 
gives a good development on the meaning of faith without making definitional distinc- 
tions (J. E. Huther, Heinrich A. W. Meyer's Commentary on the New Testament: The 


lacking in faith per se, but there is something lacking in this man's 
understanding of it. This accounts for the doubtfulness that James has 
in the man's claim of faith. The difference seems to be directly related 
to the qualification James makes of the man having "no works." 

James has made the statement that the man "says" he has faith, 
however doubtful it may be. He now further explains that this man has 
no works, providing the only possible reason within the immediate 
context to doubt the faith of the man in question. For James, the pro- 
fession did not seem to convince him of the reality of the faith. Now 
we see the reasoning behind the doubt: the man has no works and so 
his profession of faith is called into question. 

Next James points to the lack of works in this man's faith and asks, 
"Is that faith able to save him?" expecting a negative answer. This does 
not mean that James is promoting works as a means to, or a condition 
for, the salvation in question, he does not ask, "Is this lack/abundance 
of works able to save him?" He focuses still on the faith in question and 
makes it the determinant of the salvation he has in mind. The faith is 
the ultimate test of this salvation. However, it must not be ignored that 
he also makes the lack of works the reason for the doubtfulness of the 
man's profession of faith. Works appear to be the test of the faith James 
has in mind as the type of faith that will save. James says plainly that 
the man who is claiming faith, but not doing works, does not have a 

1 7 

faith that can save. To some observers, this might seem to fly in the 
face of free grace if eternal salvation is in view, but the argument does 
not stop with only this evidence. 

James has presented an analogy in the preceding context of 2:1- 
13 concerning people who are exercising their "proclamation" of faith 
by disobeying the law. Naturally the first objection that would come to 
the mind of James' audience would be that obedience to the law does 
not bring one to salvation. James is not claiming that it does, but he is 
saying that the known, willful disobedience they are displaying causes 
him to question their salvation. 

General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude [New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1887] 
86-88). These articles capture the essence of the definitional distinctions. However, it 
should be noted that the redefinition focuses on the proclamation of faith made by the 
man in question, not the way in which faith itself can take on various meanings. 

Those who wish to find the definition of faith remaining the same throughout the 
entire argument of James have the right idea, but they push it too far when they presup- 
pose a view of temporal salvation and eternal rewards being James' main concern; cf. 
Radmacher, "First Response" 37-38. 

17 It is very likely that James is also condemning those who are not "willing" to do 
works. This is established by the way James addresses the attitude of the "one who says" 
in 2:15-16 when he opts not to help those who are in need, even though the need is 

18 Charles C. Ryrie, So Great Salvation (Wheaton: Victor, 1989) 132-33. 


He goes even further to explain in the verses following 14 that 
their blatant and sinful disregard for their brother or sister causes him 
to pronounce their faith dead. What is a dead faith? It may be defined 
as a faith that is inactive, of which James has already explained will 
not save (2:14). 19 It is a faith that has separated the active pursuit of 
works from the simple proclamation of creed. James is not willing to 
accept the proclamation alone as sufficient evidence for salvation when 
the one making it is denying the opportunity before him to do works. 
A dead faith may also be defined as that which the demons in verse 19 
possess, a faith that does have knowledge and even belief in God, but 
is not willing to expend any effort for God, and in fact may work in 
opposition to God. James' view of faith does not change in this argu- 
ment. He still has in mind the faith that is in "our glorious Lord Jesus 
Christ," and the faith that is held by those who are heirs to the king- 
dom. This is the faith that is somewhat in opposition to the "pro- 
claimed" faith of the supposed man in verse 14 and to the "dead" faith 
of the verses following. When he explains that faith without works is 
dead, he is not saying that it has become weak and died. He is describ- 
ing it as a faith that never was, non-existent in the eyes of James, and 
ultimately in the eyes of God. 

The appeal mentioned briefly above to a "proclamation" of faith 
as the sole requirement for salvation seems to be just what James 
expects his audience to make when presented with the law in 2:1-13, 
and would explain why he introduces his argument in the immediately 
following context of 2:14-26. This is where we need to turn our atten- 
tion next, the context surrounding 2:14. 

The Meaning of oa^co in Surrounding Context 

We must now focus our study on what the best understanding of the 
word aco^w is in the larger context surrounding verse 14. We have 
already shown that the faith that James has in mind as efficacious for sal- 
vation and the faith the man in question has in mind are two very differ- 
ent understandings of faith. It is obvious that James would not affirm the 
propagation of a faith that would not be able to save anyone in the sense 
he has presented in 2:14. We have also seen that the man in question has 
a faith that will not save. Our focus in this section will be to understand 
the salvation as it is set in the whole of James intention. 

19 Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon 104, and Ropes, James 217. 

20 This is a distinctively different situation from the thief on the cross whom Jesus 
said would be with Him that day. Jesus knew the man's heart, James makes no claim to 
know this objector's heart. Instead, James bases his exhortation on the opportunity for 
works that he has seen this objector fail to carry out. James is not arguing for a works 
foundation for salvation, rather he is imploring them toward a grace foundation for 


Let us begin our study with the salvation that is presented in the 
earlier portions of James' letter. One might see 2:14ff. to be connected 
directly with 1:22, which is very true in regard to the same type of 

9 1 

thought, that being the active pursuit of works. This presents us with 
an interesting determination of how to define the verb acooai in 1:21 
and 2:14. They are both aorist, active, infinitives, and both follow the 
verb Suvaucu — "to be able." There are in fact three occurrences of this 
complementary construction in the book of James, the third being 
found in 4:12. In this verse, it is substantial to note that God is estab- 
lished as the One who is able to save and to destroy. This is given in 
the context of the law and resultantly must carry some reference to 


eternal salvation. It is likely that this is the main emphasis. This does 
not provide that the other two examples necessarily carry the same 
emphasis, but it does prove that James can in fact use this meaning. 
Let us now turn our attention to the two usages earlier in James. 

In 1:18, James has just pronounced their existence as Christians 
being due to the means of the "word of truth" in the exercise of God's 
will. This "word" is further made active in their lives by the receiving 
of it implanted. This is where the description of the "word" is given as 
"able to save your souls" or "able to save your lives." The salvation in 
mind here may very well deal with a present salvation from death, or 
even a prolonging or prosperity in physical life. This is well sup- 
ported by the man's being blessed in what he does in 1:25, providing 
that a necessarily corresponding relationship between the "doing" and 
the "blessed" is present in the intended meaning. It also may very well 
have in mind the eternal salvation that has just been mentioned. This 
undoubtedly has some weight in James' mind since he substantiated 
the "word" as the means of their eternal life (1:18) and continues to 
promote this "word" as their sustenance for attaining some type of sal- 
vation (1:21) and their authority for instruction (1:22-23). 

There is likely a good deal of reference by James back to the pas- 
sages that he has referred to earlier in the letter in 1:9-11 (Psalm 
103:15-16, Isaiah 40:6-7). These Old Testament passages speak of the 

21 Hodges, Dead Faith 12-13, and Gospel Under Siege 23-26. 

22 Manton, James 385-86. Laws presents a viewpoint which limits the judgment in 
4:12 strictly to a statement of character with no temporal reference to future judgment 
(Laws, James 188). However, such a view does not seem to agree with her own develop- 
ment of 4:10 on page 185 being a possible aphorism to the gospel parable that ultimately 
relates to justification in the sight of the Son of Man, especially since 4:1 1-12 seems to 
be an illustration of proper humility before God, or the lack thereof. 

23 Hodges, Absolutely 120-22, and Dead Faith 12-13. Glaze sees this passage as 
dealing only with eternal realities, but this seems to leave little room for the present re- 
alities that are made so vivid in earlier portions of chapter 1 to take on the full shape of 
their existence (R. E. Glaze, Jr., "The Relationship of Faith to Works," The Theological 
Educator 34 [Fall, 1986] 35-38). 


fading and withering that takes place in grass and the things of the 
earth. They also speak in the very next verses of the eternality of the 
Lord. In Isaiah, it speaks of His word standing forever. In Psalm 103, 
David says in the next verse that the loyal love of the Lord is from 
everlasting to everlasting. These references would undoubtedly come 
to the minds of the Jewish readers when they heard of the temporality 
of men, especially rich men. It would seem quite likely that they would 
also remember the eternal aspects of the Lord, and the impact of His 
"word." The same "word" that brought them forth and saves their 
souls is the "word" that stands forever, the "word" that is eternal. The 
resultant meaning in this passage would then have a dual concept of 
present and eternal realization in view. 

If 2:14 is necessarily connected with this argument, it stands to 
reason that it must also carry some of the same connotations with the 
emphasis being to one usage or the other, either present or eternal sal- 
vation. Those who would find this the best route to follow state that 
James appears to be using 1:21 as the theme for 1:21-2:26. It is then 
argued that throughout this passage, James is necessarily seen to be 
reflecting back on this theme in every reference to works and salva- 
tion. They state that James is loosely organized in his teachings, and 
stretches from one line of thought to another without any real warn- 
ing. 24 As seen thus far in this study, this would give aco^co a resultant 
meaning of both eternal and present salvation in 2:14. However, the 
argument cannot end here in a speculative reorganization of the 
thought of James. 

It has become increasingly clear to this observer that the teaching 
of James relies on some unified thought and could be better understood 
accordingly. If we look at the argument of James 2:1-26 as more of a 
single unit, albeit with reminders back to chapter 1, there are several 
things which stand out as rather distinct patterns in James' logic. 

James begins in verse 1 with an appeal to them as Christians not 
to hold their faith in a manner unbefitting the attitude of a Christian. 
He follows this with an example of how this is taking place in their 
assembly. This example closes by comparing them to judges with evil 

James then points out that their association with the rich is actu- 
ally association with the enemy, and their treatment of the poor is not 

24 Hodges, Dead Faith 12-13, and Gospel Under Siege 23-24. Some even interpret 
James as comprising completely separate teachings with very little, if any, connection 
from one thought to the next; cf. Dibelius, James 1-11, 149. 

25 Huther also argues that there is a direct connection between the two passages, 
but sees the only referent to be eternal salvation (Huther, James 86). As was observed 
earlier with respect to Glaze's article, such a position does not seem to allow for the full 
expression of the intent in chapter 1 . 


in accord with the royal law since the poor are actually the ones who 
are to be their brothers in Christ. This being established, James calls 
their attention to the fact that they are transgressors of the whole law 
and not just one part of it. 

He continues by appealing to them to act as if they were to be 
judged by the law of liberty, this is the same law that previously in 
1:25 was the perfect law and by abiding according to it, a man shall 
become blessed in all that he does. In the instance of 2:13, James is 
referring to this law and the judgment that pertains to it, likely escha- 
tological judgment. Whatever else may be included in this law, it 
appears that there is at least some relation to the Decalogue and also 
possibly to the commands of Christ. It is seen to be "merciless to one 
who is not doing (showing) mercy." 

From the standpoint of the recipients, James' audience is undoubt- 
edly expecting him to remember the statement that he has made in 
verse 1 pertaining to their faith in Jesus Christ and not to present them 
with any type of an appeal to the law, especially not judgment by any 
law. With this judgment being presented to them as incentive, it seems 
to be a direct affront to their freedom from the law that was accom- 
plished by Christ and His salvation. The natural response would be to 
say, "What judgment could I possibly fall under? I have faith, faith has 
set me free from any judgment. James, you must be mistaken to think 
that my works are a necessity, I have faith!" This seems to be an espe- 
cially probable response for the audience James has in view. Most of 
his letter is devoted to showing them that they are lacking in discipline 
in many areas of their spiritual and physical lives. This appeal by 
James' readers is the direct link between 2:1-13 and 2:14-26. 

The natural appeal to faith as the overriding bypass to works is 
expected by James. He has written with reference to the law to inten- 
tionally convict those who are not in obedience to its precepts. James 
expects his readers to attempt to render impotent his exhortation to 
avoid judgment. Their only hope to show judgment as having no 
authority over them is to appeal to faith alone, which James answers in 
his brief discussion with the objector in 2:14-26. This explains the 
necessity for James to include this section in his letter and fits well 
with the context of both the passage and his readers. 

An appeal to faith alone from his readers must be an appeal to the 
faith unto eternal life since there could be little else in view when an 
appeal of this nature is made. If reward or blessing were the only ref- 

26 The Jewish mind would likely have referenced this judgment, or any other, to be 
related to the final judgment that would come during the last times. Cf. Davids, James 
119, Dyrness, "Mercy triumphs" 12, and Lorin L. Cranford, "An Exposition of James 2," 
Southwestern Journal of Theology 29/1 (Fall, 1986) 12, 26. 


erents of the judgment, certainly James' audience does not expect to 
gain them by an appeal to faith alone as the purchasing agent. James has 
already shown that abiding is what makes a man blessed in what he does 
(1:25), and that the reward of the crown of life is given to the one who 
has shown himself to be approved by perseverance under trial. Eternal 
salvation must be the referent in view. Certainly it does not have to be 
limited to this since it was unlikely for the Christian Jew to think of the 
two as necessarily separated, but this must be the main emphasis here. 

As a result, this gives us the emphasis of meaning that the verb 
cho^co necessarily must employ in 2:14. It is not necessarily connected 
to the salvation that is described in 1:21. The salvation that is described 
there has both eternal and temporal ramifications as its primary mean- 
ing. Instead, 2:14 must be understood as a response of James to the 
obvious objection that his readers would make when confronted with 
judgment according to the law. They appeal to faith alone to render this 
judgment incapable of accusing them. This is done according to an 
understanding that they have the purchasing agent out from under such 
a judgment. The judgment that James is speaking of and that they are 
attempting to avoid is one that appears to be optional. The only judg- 
ment that is described as optional is the final judgment, not judgment 
for rewards. Therefore, oco^co must have eternal salvation as its main 
referent with any other quality of meaning being rather small. 

This being the understanding of oco^co, let us examine, the entire 
verse to see what James has in mind in it. "What is the use, my broth- 
ers, if a certain one should say he has faith, but does not have works? 
Is that faith able to save him?" The appeal to faith from James' audi- 
ence does not carry any weight for their eternal salvation since they 
cannot prove their faith to be a reality. This proof is ultimately not to 
be found in their simple proclamation of faith, but rather in the accom- 
panying works. If they were making this proclamation, but not living 
like they were in fact part of the Christian family, works included, 
James was not convinced of their eternal salvation and appealed to 
them on that basis. 28 

Historical Context 

James was a leader of the early church in one of its more difficult 
periods. Persecution and ridicule by the public, and especially fellow 

"Davids, James 120, Foerster, TDNT 995, Martin, James 81, Moo, James 101, and 
Schneider, New International Dictionary 216. For many others who concur, please refer- 
ence many of the commentaries and related articles included in footnote 1 above. 

Chafer takes this view in his understanding of the foundation for James' appeal 
to works in light of true saving faith (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Salvation (Findlay: Dunham, 
1917) 82-83. 


Jews, was to be expected. Being a leader, he would naturally be con- 
cerned about the witness and impact of the church to those around it, 
but even more importantly, he would be concerned about the welfare 
of those that were "in his care," so to speak. When these that he was 
directly or indirectly responsible for were not living up to the call, it 
was natural for him to be concerned. When they were not paying heed 
to the call, it was natural, and in fact quite proper, for him to doubt 
their authenticity. The audience that James had in mind was not igno- 
rant of the teachings of the church. They knew what their relationship 
to Christ and His body should be. James was not trying to cause undue 
concern in his congregation, but he was trying to bring them one step 
closer in their relationship to Christ, even if that meant showing them 
their need for a more true introduction to Christ. 

When reading through these arguments written by James, it is 
difficult not to be reminded of many passages that Jesus taught. Since 
this was likely one of the first books of the New Testament in circula- 
tion, it is improbable that there were many of the written gospel 
accounts available. However, James evidently had many of Jesus' say- 
ings in mind or in written form when he wrote much of this letter. 
Luke records in the first few verses of his Gospel record that there 
were various reports being transferred amongst the people (l:lff.). 
These may have been written or spoken accounts, which he then took 
the time to compile into one "consecutive" account. 

When reading in particular of the judgment that James speaks of 
in chapter 2, the observer cannot help but think of Matthew 25:3 Iff. 
where Jesus speaks of His separating the sheep and the goats according 
to their works. Here deeds are the basis for inclusion or exclusion in 
relation to the kingdom. 

Most vivid in its direct correlation is the relation between James 
2:14-26 and Matthew 7:13-23. In this passage, consent and profession 
are not the final determinants for acceptance into the kingdom. Rather, 
it is the decisive activity in accord with the proclamation of faith and 
devotion. Jesus' teaching seems to directly parallel that of James 
which is true of much of the book of James and the Sermon on the 
Mount. 31 


Finally, we turn to examine several possible objections to the 
view supported here. These will be presented briefly, followed by 

29 Davids, James 38-39. 
30 Cranford, "Exposition of James 2" 25-26. 

31 Peter H. Davids, James 47-51, D. Edmund Hiebert, The Epistle of James (Chi- 
cago: Moody, 1979) 17, and Martin, James lxxiv-lxxvi. 


responses from the understanding that seems best to fit the intent of 

1. First, it is objected that aco^w in other places in the book of 
James means strictly or more emphatically the salvation from a present 
concern. As a result, it should be understood accordingly in 2:14. It is 
argued that James uses this more likely meaning in 5:15, 20 and it is 
unlikely that he would change his meaning here. 

This is a valid objection to consider since James' intent is to clar- 
ify, not to confuse, and to provide a unified understanding, not a dis- 
connected group of words and phrases. However, the first observation 
that needs to be made of such an objection is that there had to be some 
indicator that led James' readers to believe that he was using this 
specific meaning of gco^cd in those verses. That indicator, to be precise, 
would have to come from the immediate context of the verses sur- 
rounding the word or phrase in question. Good hermeneutics demands 
that a word's meaning must ultimately be determined from the context 
in which the author has presented it. With an understanding of the 
author's intent being our final goal, each context must be the primary 
consideration in interpreting specific statements. Other qualifications 
and definitions, such as comparison of other contexts and passages 
within the same book or other books, can certainly, and often do, have 
an impact on the meaning of a given word in its context, but that 
word's immediate context is the final authority. We have been shown 
by the exegesis presented in this paper that the context of James 2:14 
allows, and even requires, an eternal salvation emphasis in the manner 
in which the verb aco^co is used within that verse. 

Those who make the objection that ow^co has the same meaning in 
all its usages in the letter of James are not willing to allow a passage's 
immediate context to dictate what is the meaning of the author. The 
same is true of those who say that the meaning of aco^co in James 2:14 
is necessarily a derivative of its usage in 1:21 without giving substan- 
tial warrant to claim this. The only warrant that is usually attached to 
such a claim is that it is the same word and a very similar subject mat- 
ter. These are helpful in enlightening possibilities of meaning, but 
must not be the overarching guide in determining the final meaning. 33 

2. A second objection certainly comes to mind when speaking of 
the eternal ramifications of the verb cxo^co in the question, "Why did 

. 32 Hodges, Dead Faith 12-13, and Gospel Under Siege 26-27. 

33 Radmacher, for example, recognizes that the problem of not dealing with the 
context can, and does, occur with respect to the use of the term ocb^co, but apparently he 
fails to carry his reasoning through in the application of his hermeneutic. He, like 
Hodges, has already assumed a definition before coming to the context of James 2:14 
(Radmacher, "First Response" 39-40). 


James not make any type of reference to the Gospel if he was con- 
cerned about their salvation from eternal damnation?" 

This is a logical question since James does not make any mention 
of them receiving Christ, per se. One must be careful, however, when 
assigning any weight to an argument from silence. James does refer to 
them receiving the word, this being the instrument by which they were 
brought forth (1:18-21). But within this appeal there is no reference to 
the death and resurrection of Christ. We need not look far for an 
answer to the reason why there is no reference. 

James was a leader of the church in Jerusalem and would certainly 
be recognized by any that had contact with Christianity, especially by 
any Jews, whether they be in Jerusalem or in the "diaspora," as James 
calls it. This letter would be meaningless to anyone who was not 
already familiar with Christianity and James could certainly assume 
that any who would read it would already be familiar with the essen- 
tials of the Gospel. Therefore, James can assume that they would 
already have the foundational knowledge of what constituted the Gos- 
pel message. His purpose was not to be redundant or to explain to 
those in the congregation who weren't believers what was the common 
creed. Instead, he wished to convict them of the areas in which they 
were falling short. The result is that he found it necessary to give an 
exhortation to them to receive more than simple knowledge, even to 
believe, for the demons were capable of that. The need that he saw 
amongst the dispersed Christians was to be pushed to live in accord 
with the profession of faith in Christ, even if this meant that they had 
to enter into true faith for the first time. James could count on them 
knowing the essentials of the Gospel plan. He simply showed them the 
full picture. 

3. A related objection is that since James calls the readers "broth- 
ers," they must all be saved Christians. 35 

This argument tends to take too much for granted in proving that 
they are in fact Christians. It assumes that the term "brother" is used in 
a very technical sense, similar to the way that Paul used the word in 
many of his writings. This does not seem to be necessary in light of the 
situation of James. He is a Jew, in a Jewish community, writing to 
Jews. It was a common practice for a Jew to call a fellow Jew brother, 
whether Christian or non-Christian. It was also certainly customary for 
the Christian community to use the term brother when speaking to fel- 

34 Hodges, Absolutely 124-25. 

35 Ibid. 124-25; cf. also Hodges, Dead Faith 9-10, Dibelius, James 178, and Ryrie, 
Great 74. Radmacher also appears to defend such a view (Radmacher, "First Response" 
37). However, in accusing MacArthur of begging the question on this issue, Radmacher 
does not seem to recognize that he follows the same hermeneutical procedure as Mac- 
Arthur in supporting his own viewpoint. 


low Christians. But this does not necessitate that the term be used in a 
theologically precise manner when applied to every one of James' read- 
ers. The situation of a contemporary pastor makes a good illustration. 

It is doubtful that any pastor of a church today assumes that every 
person in his congregation is saved, especially if that congregation is 
spread abroad like James'. Just because someone in a church today is 
called "member" does not mean that they have received the gift of sal- 
vation, even amongst a supposed regenerate membership. James gives 
his readers the benefit of the doubt, like most pastors generally would, 
but he also does not hesitate to explain various aspects of salvation in 
relation to the "word" (2:18), and as we have shown earlier, the 
"works" (2:14), for the sake of those he considers unsaved. 

4. A fourth objection states that the judgment referred to by 
James in 2:12-13 is not in any way related to the judgment unto hell 
from which Christ has saved His followers. Instead, this must refer to 
some other form of judgment. Such an objection must first call into 
question the content of the law of liberty that James has in mind in 
1:25 and 2:1-13. Those who make this objection are forced to say that 
it does not necessarily have to be inclusive of all parts of the Mosaic 
law since the only citations James makes are to the Decalogue and pos- 
sibly a few teachings of Jesus. The result of such a limitation in the 
law is then understood to limit the judgment as well, often understood 
to be a judgment of rewards which will be considered in the next 

It is true that only the Decalogue and possibly Christ's teaching 
are referred to here, and the Decalogue may in fact be assimilated as 
well into the teachings and commands of Christ, but let us first look at 
the context in which Christ presented his teaching on the second great- 
est commandment, which incidentally, is found in Leviticus 19. 38 
Christ Himself was certainly in favor of the keeping of the law in Mat- 
thew 5:17-20. Later in the same book, 22:34ff., Jesus is asked which is 
the greatest commandment, to which he answered "You shall love the 
Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your 
mind." He continued to give the second greatest, "You shall love your 
neighbor as yourself. On these commandments depend the whole Law 
and the Prophets." This second commandment is the same one that 

MacArthur makes this same point; however, does not make mention of the evi- 
dence of James' very strategic, and even precarious, Jewish/Christian position (Mac- 
Arthur, "Faith" 29). 

37 Hodges, Gospel Under Siege 26-27. 

38 For a brief development of this correlation, see footnote #64 of Cranford's "Ex- 
position of James 2," 24. For a more lengthy and complete study, see Luke T. Johnson, 
"The Use of Leviticus 19 in the Letter of James," JBL 101/3 (September, 1982) 391- 


James has quoted for his audience. There were certainly distinctions to 
be made between the purposes behind Moses' and Christ's use of the 
law and intent in relating it to the people, such as the case of the sac- 
rificial law, but there are also many similarities. In all of the passages 
mentioned thus far, obedience is the expected outcome from the exhor- 
tation. When James mentions the whole law, his readers would 
undoubtedly remember how Christ had used the phrase "whole law" 
in Matthew 22:34ff. It is also likely that they would remember the way 
in which Christ had spoken of the completion of the law to take place 
in Him, but not the abolition of the law. He still expected them to obey 
the law given to Moses, the whole law, which also may be understood 
as the moral precepts found within the law, until the kingdom is estab- 
lished. The key to this argument is found in the fact that James, like 
Christ, expects his readers to act in a manner that represents obedience 
to the whole law. James explains that they should act as though they 
were to be judged by the law. James' readers who are unwilling to 
attempt keeping the precepts of the law will naturally try to find a way 
out from under it. The appeal James expects them to make is to faith 
alone. But James explains that their kind of faith is not the kind that 
will save them or anyone, being only a belief that is no more than that 
of the demons. 

There can be no doubt that obedience to these commands, and in 
fact the whole law would certainly come to the forefront of the minds 
of James' readers, especially when the judgment in verse 13 appears to 
give a reference to final judgment and since James has just explained 
that the one who breaks a part of the law actually breaks the whole 
law. This gives us a more vivid picture of exactly why the appeal to 
faith would be their first recourse against such demands. However, it 
must be remembered that James does not say that they will necessarily 
be judged by the law he has referred to, but he does appeal to them to 
act as though they were to be judged by it. This leads us to our next 

5. As stated above, the fifth objection concerns the judgment in 
view and the possibility of rewards. Those who are opposed to this 
judgment being one which will convict lost sinners of sin and sentence 
them to eternal damnation are forced to make this the judgment that 
will take place when Christ judges the Christian's works and gives out 
rewards based upon that judgment. 39 

This does not seem to align with the reasoning that James pre- 
sents. To begin with, every Christian will pass through the judgment of 
Christ that pertains to Christian rewards, all would agree to this. But 
James does not seem to have such a required judgment in mind. 

39 Hodges, Gospel Under Siege 26. 


Instead, he is thinking of judgment as something that can be escaped 
through true faith. If such a judgment unto rewards were in view, why 
would he appeal to it as optional (2:12-13) and even present deliver- 
ance from it as essential for the Christian (2:14 — "save" or "deliver")? 
In 2:12-13, James has stated that there is a way to triumph over, 
meaning to "exult over" or "boast against," judgment. This way is 
found in showing mercy and acting in accord with the law of liberty. If 
taken by itself this could be understood as a meritorious type of 
accomplishing works to be brought through the judgment, such as that 
in 1 Corinthians 3. When a believer is judged for rewards, this judg- 
ment is based upon the accomplishments of that believer. This would 
necessitate that the judgment James speaks of has the accomplishments 
of those passing through as its main subject for scrutiny. However, 
such an understanding is not borne out in the text. James speaks of a 
judgment quite the opposite from that of rewards. The judgment he is 
warning against is based upon sin (2:9-11), not upon the works of the 
person. The judgment that he has in mind does not look at the accom- 
plishments of the person, rather it inspects the person's sinful trans- 
gression and judges upon that basis. This type of judgment is not with 
a view to reward, but with a view to convict and punish. 

When James appeals to the law, he expects his audience to appeal 
to faith as the single agent to deliver them out from under the required 
judgment by the law. One would expect James to appeal to them on the 
basis of a forfeiture of reward if such a judgment unto rewards is in 
view, but he does not. He appeals to their salvation and deliverance 
from judgment, not a salvation which will prolong their temporal life 
or add to their reward in heaven, but a salvation which is ultimately 
unto eternal life. 

6. A sixth objection takes issue with the traditional understanding 
of the definition of a "dead faith." The objectors argue that James 
could not possibly have had eternal salvation in mind since "the faith 
that is now dead must once have been alive, just as a dead body must 
once have had life." 41 

This argument is supported mainly by an appeal to the fact that 
dead faith is compared to a dead body in 2:26. This may seem like a 
relatively literal way of thinking of this analogy, but it seems that in so 
doing, it proves too much. Let us see how this would be understood if 
taken completely in the literal sense: Faith without works is dead. The 
body without the spirit is dead. The body cannot be made physically 

40 For a representative definition of KaTCtKauxaouou, see G. Abbott-Smith, A Man- 
ual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1986) 234. 

41 Much of the argument in Hodges' Dead Faith rests upon this assumption (cf. 7- 
9). Cf. also Hodges, Absolutely 125-26, and Hodges Gospel Under Siege 19-20. 


alive again (until the rapture). So also faith must be, according to this 
view, lying in a state of dormancy, waiting to be revived. James does 
seem to be assuming that faith can be brought into an active state, but 
only by the decision willingly to do works by the one who has the 
faith. Is James also saying that if one who has died decides he wants to 
live again, he will in fact be raised from the dead due to his own deci- 
sion, or is James saying that, since we on earth have the ability to 
decide to revive our faith, we also have the power to decide who shall 
be raised physically from the dead? This hardly seems likely. 

James is not using this analogy to show that what was once alive 
must be made alive again. His purpose behind using this illustration is 
to show those who hold only to a dead belief that their faith is useless 
and void. It is void for any usefulness to the poor who need help, and 
even void for their own salvation. They have not lost their faith, as the 
body has been separated from the soul. Neither is it lying in a state of 
dormancy. Instead, they have never had true faith. 

It seems more literal and understandable to see James' analogy in 
a somewhat figurative sense. James is making an analogy of the body 
without the spirit to show that faith without works is just as inactive 
and just as useless. He has not assumed that the faith must have once 
been alive or that it must, in essence, be raised from the dead. Such an 
argument does not agree with the purpose James has in mind. 

7. Some objections that certainly have been made to the book of 
James deal with the apparent discrepancy between the letter of James 
and the letters of Paul. It is not within the scope of this paper to rem- 
edy each and every apparent discrepancy between James and Paul. 
Such discussions have been given ample consideration elsewhere. 
Instead, we shall look at the overriding intent of each author and see 
why the divergence may appear. 

Each author, James and Paul, was in a particular position and also 
dealt with a specific occasion. As has been stated previously, James 

42 MacArthur makes this distinction quite clearly as well by showing that it is not 
works that keeps faith alive, but rather faith is made alive as an impartation of God. 
From this MacArthur draws the conclusion that James "pictures works as the invigorat- 
ing force and faith as the body" (MacArthur, "Faith" 31-32). Saucy explains that Mac- 
Arthur may have misconstrued the point of the analogy. He rightly understands the main 
point to be that works are evidential of living and useful faith. A dead faith is evidenced 
by no works being present. Similarly a dead body is evidenced by no spirit being present 
(Robert L. Saucy, "Second Response to 'Faith According to the Apostle James' by 
John F. MacArthur, Jr.," JETS 33/1 (March, 1990) 44. 

43 For some remarks alluding to this view, see James Dunn, Unity and Diversity in 
the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977) 251-52 and a brief study on the 
subject by Thorwald Lorenzen, "Faith without Works does not count before God! James 
2:14-26," ExpTim 89/8 (May, 1978) 233-34. For a development of the argument with 
rebuttal, see Rakestraw, "James 2:14-26" 31-50, and G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Jus- 
tification (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954) 131-40. 


was a leader of the Jerusalem church and his concerns would mainly 
have been with the ongoing preservation and building up of the believ- 
ers within the Jerusalem church and those who would be in close con- 
tact with the dispersed church and its teachings. This ultimately would 
have made him very subjective when it comes to the faith and ongoing 
works of the believers. James was concerned with developing the 
beliefs and habits of those who had been Christians for a long time and 
convicting those who thought they were, but really weren't. His main 
interest would have been with the sanctification of the believers, their 
practical justification. 

Paul, on the other hand, was very evangelistically minded in his 
teaching, and these teachings were targeted mainly for people outside 
of familiarity with any proper type of works within a Jewish religious 
perspective. His presentations to these people would naturally be from 
a very objective viewpoint in the eyes of God. Paul was concerned 
with bringing people to faith who had never heard the Gospel of 
Christ. He did not neglect to demand changed lives, but he did not 
emphasize such things, as forthrightly as does James, as a necessary 
ingredient to the acceptance of the Gospel of Christ. This does not 
make the emphasis unnecessary, it was simply not appropriate in the 
timing of Paul to present this in his initial appeals to belief. Paul's 
greatest concern at this point was with the justification, not the sanc- 
tification, of the believer. 

Each author had his own purposes and his own way of presenting 
the truth he felt his audience needed to hear. If we understand them as 
writing to very different groups of people, and from very different sit- 
uations, it becomes much easier to understand why there is a sense of 
diversity between them. They do not disagree. They simply have 
different emphases within their teachings. 

8. The eighth objection relates to what constitutes the faith that is 
mentioned in 2:14. The objectors state that James, in asking, "Is that 
faith able to save him?," is not making an entreaty to the proclamation 
of faith just mentioned, but rather to real saving faith in Christ. This 
argument hinges upon the definite article that does not appear in 2:14 
with the professed faith (first occurrence of jiicmc,), but does occur 
with the faith that is ultimately not able to save (second occurrence of 
niaxiq). It is said that such divergence in the writing of the article is of 
no significance and the faith in view is true faith. 45 

It is true that the article was certainly optional at times in the 
mind of the Greek, but in a direct argument, such as the one presented 

44 Moo, James 108-17. MacArthur also develops this understanding briefly; cf. 
MacArthur, "Faith" 27-28. 

45 Dibelius, James 152, and Hodges, Dead Faith 11, and Gospel Under Siege 22- 
23. An interpretation that this position suggests is also assumed in Hodges' Absolutely 


here by James, it is highly unlikely that he is simply being careless in 
his writing method. The use of the article in such a case as this is more 
likely anaphoric. Since James has already referred to a certain faith in 
the immediately preceding sentence, it seems most appropriate for him 
to be specifying the kind of faith he has just mentioned. This would 
allow for the interpretation of "that faith" or "such faith" in his second 
usage. Usage of the article in other passages of James must be deter- 
mined by their own context, and it must also be allowed for context to 
determine the proper meaning here. 

Those who would like to understand the faith in 2:14 to be true 
faith hope to force the issue with an appeal to works being understood 
to be a condition for salvation if faith is taken to be other than true 
faith. The purpose behind such an appeal is to push those who would 
affirm salvation by grace into saying two contradictory things. First 
that salvation is by grace through faith, as all would agree, and second 
that works is a necessary condition for faith, which contradicts the first 
statement. The objectors find a way out of this predicament by under- 
standing this faith as true faith and the works being a condition for 
rewards. However, as was shown above rewards is not what James had 
in mind when he speaks of judgment and salvation. Therefore, faith 
must be understood to be something other than true faith. 

The objectors seem to be showing too much of a bias in the 
assumptions behind such an argument. Faith and works do not neces- 
sarily have to be diametrically opposed to one another. It seems to fit 
James' understanding best to find faith as the purchasing agent of sal- 
vation, but not if it is only a statement of creed and not a way of life. 
Works are the natural expression of that faith. They are not a condition 
for faith and salvation, but rather an exemplification of it. If there be 
any conditions placed upon the faith, they are conditions upon the One 
in whom the faith is placed, not upon the one who holds the faith, but 
James by no means places himself in a position to judge conditions, 
only the observable results. 

A. T. Robertson, Studies in the Epistle of James (Nashville: Broadman, n.d.) 94 
n. 2, and Robertson, Word Pictures 34. Those who wish to deny this and rely on other 
instances to prove the point are not dealing with the matter at hand in 2:14-2:17. James 
uses this segment to show explicitly that that faith, the faith that is only a proclamation, 
without works is dead. This fits well with James' use of the article in both 2:14 and 2:17. 
After these verses, there is another segment of argumentation started and another objec- 
tor introduced. Thus, these must be left to speak for themselves. 

47 Perhaps the best illustration of this connectedness is developed by Ryrie. He 
states that the faith spoken of in James 2:14-26 is " . . . like a two coupon train or bus 
ticket. One coupon says, 'Not good if detached' and the other says, 'Not good for pas- 
sage.' Works are not good for passage, but faith detached from works is not saving 
faith!" (Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine [Chicago: Moody, 1972] 133-34). 


9. There is one final objection which is somewhat peripheral to 
the issue at hand, but we will give a brief description and answer to it. 
This objection deals with the use and interpretation of James 2:18-19. 
The objection made is that these verses do not imply theological 
import to the argument James is presenting. The reasons for such an 
assertion by one interpreter are that the one who is speaking here is not 
James and therefore the debate, when rightly interpreted, centers 
around pragmatism. This approach is supported by the argument that 
the word x w P^ — "without" is not included in "most," or "the major- 
ity of" 49 Greek manuscripts and in fact the word is replaced by the 
preposition sk — "by." Much is also made by another interpreter of 
where to punctuate the verses, resultantly attributing part of the argu- 
ment to James and part to the supposed debater. 

Let us begin our discussion with the "most" Greek manuscripts 


that do not contain the word X®PK an d replace it with ek. It seems 
disturbing that most contemporary textual critics have not seen any 
substantial warrant for an appeal to the aforementioned "most" Greek 
documents in this instance. 53 Just how many there are is not mentioned 
by the objectors in great detail. However, the qualitative referent in 
this context seems to be "most," which is a dangerous tool to use when 
evaluating literary texts. Quantity alone should not be preeminent as a 
deciding factor. 

48 Hodges, Gospel Under Siege 27. 

49 Hodges, Dead Faith 16. 

50 Ibid. 16-17; also Hodges, Gospel Under Siege 27-28. 

5 Sibelius, James 149-51, 154-58. 

52 It is explained by Hodges that there are some extant "Byzantine" manuscripts 
which contain the variant ek in place of %wpic, (Zane C. Hodges, "Light on James Two 
from Textual Criticism," BibSac 120 [October-December, 1963] 344-47). However it 
would hardly seem sufficient evidence for qualifying them as "many" while assuming ac- 
curacy; see also Zane C. Hodges and Aurthur L. Farstad, Greek New Testament accord- 
ing to the Majority Text (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982) introductory notes and the 
critical apparatus on James 2:18. 

53 The variant ek is considered by many scholars hardly worth including in the crit- 
ical apparatus, and when it is represented, it is done so with little evidence to recom- 
mend it as a preferred reading. This does not necessarily classify it as wrong, but it does 
cause the variant to be quite suspect. Those who support the "Byzantine" text as the pre- 
ferred text (also referred to by many proponents as the Majority text) would like to con- 
vince critics of its credibility based upon external evidence, especially number of 
documents. Number is the basis on which supporters of the Majority text rest for their 
methodology. However, even in his article, Hodges apparently appeals to these texts 
only to show that such an emendation is possible, not necessary. This is best illustrated 
by his admission of stronger external evidence in favor of %(apiq, and his appeal to inter- 
nal evidence as the ultimate criteria for a final decision; cf. Hodges, "Light on James 
Two" 347. 

For a generally accepted outline of principles used in textual criticism, see Kurt 
and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) 


The interpretation derived by those who replace %(opic, with ek in 
2:18 is "You have faith, and I have works; show to me your faith from 
(sk) your works, and I will show to you, from my works, my faith." 
Such a change in translation, as has been well observed by one of its 
proponents, would reduce the argument of correlation between faith and 
works to absurdity by the debater. In other words, there is an underly- 
ing assumption made by the debater that neither of the persons involved 
can in fact show faith through the resultant works. It is then posited that 
the debater continues on to show James in 2:19 that James' simple creed 
of "God is one" is not enough to inspire works, but is only a statement 
of belief. Thus the simple statement of belief is shown to be sterile by 
the debater who expects James to agree and see the point that faith and 
works are in no way related. In 2:20ff., James makes his statement in the 
debate and proves the debater wrong by stating that faith and works are 
necessarily connected, being best illustrated by Abraham and Rahab. 57 

The problem with such an interpretation is that it greatly reduces 
the impact of the argument James is using to enforce the relationship 
between faith and works. The absurdity argument seems to be an appeal 
to a general principle or simple statement of rebuttal, and an absurd one 
at that. However, if we see James as the one who is behind the debater 
asking "professing" believers to show their faith apart from their works, 
this further convicts them of their false profession in 2:14. In this case, 
the one who is professing belief is seen to be without a trace of proof 
to back up the claim. This fits James' situation and intent much better, 
and in fact makes the argument much more forceful within the context 
of Jewish believers in the relatively new church community of Christ. 
The Christian community's validity would often be questioned by those 
outside it. The orthodox Jew, or anyone else outside Christianity, could 
not help but wonder at a religion that did not live up to its claims. 

275-76. As stated earlier, Hodges in fact admits that he does not wish to rely on this 
alone when he appeals in his article to internal evidence as the compelling criteria 
(Hodges, "Light on James Two" 347). For a good discussion of the methodology behind 
the Majority text, see Zane C. Hodges, Defense of the Majority Text (unpublished article 
available at Dallas Theological Seminary Book Room, no date), or a brief representation 
of the methodology by the same author in Which Bible? (2d ed.; ed. David O. Fuller; 
Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International, 1971) 25-38. For an insightful critique of the 
methodology, see Daniel B. Wallace, "Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text," 
BibSac 146/583 (July-September, 1989) 270-90. 

55 Hodges, "Light on James Two" 348. 

56 Hodges, Gospel Under Siege 27, and more completely in "Light on James Two" 

57 This view does not seem to fit well into the surrounding logical context of James 
2, nor does it appear to do justice to the argument that James is establishing. For a more 
complete exposition of the view, see Hodges, "Light on James Two" 347-50. 


The interpretation of 2:19-20 in this view understands James to 
be speaking again in 2:19. He is pointing to their simple profession 
and comparing it to the worthless professions of the demons. James is 
saying that the one who relies on such a simple proclamation and is not 
willing to follow through has no more faith than a demon, which is 
ultimately worthless for salvation. 

The second point that necessarily must be made is that no matter 
how one punctuates the verse in question, the teaching is still one that 
James refers to as support for "faith without works is dead." This 
would mean that one must thereby interpret the passage as one that 
teaches such a position. This is in fact easily seen no matter who is 
speaking in the passage, James as the supposed arguer or someone else. 
The argument still says essentially what James has said already and 
continues to show by referring to the same conclusion "faith without 
works is dead," and that a faith true to the professed affirmation is 
observably active. 

The third segment of concern for some with this passage is that it 
is not introducing any theological appeal into the argument. Whether 
James or some supposed debater is speaking in verse 19 is of little con- 
sequence to this debate. The argument is cited as being in support of 
what James is presenting, and James ultimately agrees with what is 
being said. But if the reference is not a supportive theological statement 
of what true faith must contain, then what else could it possibly be? Is 
it just an explanation of the demons' monotheism, not relating to their 
destiny? 5 Certainly it cannot be only that when we see what the 
response of the demons is to their belief. They are shuddering. This 
seems to indicate their knowledge of what is confronting them when 
they recognize God for who He is. Their ultimate fear is final judgment. 

Could we possibly suppose that the appeal in this passage is sim- 
ply a comparison of the present works of the demons here on earth, 
naturally doing bad works or no works at all, to the good works that 
are to be representative of the "believer's" life? This seems like an 
unlikely proposition since the emphasis in verse 19 is not on works, it 
is on belief. James makes an appeal to this to support his view of 
works but that is not the object in question at this moment. Instead, the 
belief that is ascribed to the "proclaiming" believer is being compared 
to the belief of the demons. To ascribe works to the demons, bad as 
they may be, could possibly be assumed, but to ascribe any kind of 
works to the person who simply "believes that God is one" is not 
something James is likely to do since he appeals to it as an example of 

58 For a good discussion of this view with a brief explanation of the meaning and 
impact of 2:19, see Adamson, James 293-97. 


Hodges, Dead Faith 17, and Ryrie, Great 121-22. 


"dead faith," "faith without works." Therefore, the level of compari- 
son must be maintained on an intellectual level, over and above prag- 
matism. Ultimately, theology is introduced when we bring the entire 
context of the previous few sentences to bear on this verse. Since the 
argument about the belief of the demons is on an intellectual plane, 
and not pragmatic, it also follows that what is in view is not any type 
of possible rewards system or meritorious discussion of faith. This 
adds credibility to our position on the salvation that James has in mind 
in 2:14. What James has in view is not a type of meritorious faith, but 
rather a faith that includes true belief and pragmatic development. In 
like manner, the salvation that he is presenting here also must not be 
dealing with the meritorious reward concept, but rather something else. 
The only option open to us is one that pertains to the eternal salvation 
of the believer, and resultantly the eternal damnation of the demons. 


In conclusion, we should review the understanding of salvation in 
James 2:14 that was arrived at earlier in this study and suggest some 
warnings in its use. James 2:14 speaks of the eternal salvation that is 
found in Christ and Christ alone as Lord and Savior. The acceptance of 
Christ is borne out in the life of the believer not through a simple proc- 
lamation of faith, but rather in the works that accompany such a state- 
ment of belief. If a person is claiming to have saving faith, but is not 
doing the works that result from the changed life, then that person is 
not saved according to the teaching of James. 

The teaching of James is in complete accord with that which is 
found in other passages relating to the salvation/works relationship. 
Jesus spoke of it explicitly when condemning those who only verbalize 
his Lordship, but do not do the will of His Father (Matt 7:15-27, cf. 
5:16). It can also be seen on numerous occasions that Paul speaks 
strongly concerning the essential expression of faith being found in 
works (Rom 1:5, 2:6-8, 6:17-18; 1 Cor 13:2, 15:58; 2 Cor 10:5-6; Gal 

The understanding of James 2:14 espoused in this study is based 
upon the fact that the word oco^co in this verse speaks of eternal salva- 
tion, not a deliverance from a present crisis or an earning of rewards. 
The aspect of eternal salvation was borne out in the differentiation that 
James made between saving faith and proclaimed faith that has no 
works. This proclamation of faith was the response James expected to 
his presentation of the law and judgment. This judgment is not with a 
view to a meritorious form of works, rather it is based upon transgres- 

60 Adamson, James 294-96, and Davids, James 125-26. 


sion of the law of liberty, which James explains to be sin. With a proc- 
lamation of faith alone being the response that James expects his 
readers to give as a bypass to this judgment, the judgment must conse- 
quently have eternal ramifications. He has shown them in no uncertain 
terms that such a simple proclamation was not enough to save if the 
one making it did not have accompanying works. 

It may be worthwhile to point out a few possible abuses that could 
result from this study and others like it. It is best not to forget these 
temptations when putting the teachings of James into practice. 

First, James does not presume to be dogmatic about judging the 
eternal security or damnation of the people in question, likewise nei- 
ther should his interpreters pronounce such judgment. The argument of 
James, however pointed it may be, is still intentionally exhortational 
toward spurring on his audience to good works and the beginning of a 
faith that is efficacious to salvation. We must be careful when we are 
in a place of leadership; it is a great temptation for us to presume we 
know more than we actually do simply because of what we have seen. 
This should not deter us from being honest and straightforward in our 
exhortations, but it should cause us to refrain from being overly dog- 
matic about what we have observed. Only God can judge the heart. 

This brings us to the second possible temptation a leader will 
encounter when applying this. As discussed above, it is easy to over- 
emphasize a passage such as this. However, it is also easy to ignore a 
passage that seems to be so strong in its teaching. We must be faithful 
to our brothers not to shy away when they become entrapped in some 
type of false teaching that does not accord with the teaching of the 
Bible. It is relatively easy to tell people to love one another in our 
exhortations. It is another thing altogether to tell them they are in dan- 
ger of going to hell. We must not be afraid to proclaim the whole 
counsel of God as is found in His Word. 

Third, it is important to understand how we as interpreters 
approach the Biblical text when we are confronted with an apparent 
problem. The text must always be our authority, not our theology nor 
our personal bias which may be drawn from past experience. When 
approaching a problem, it is very easy to succumb to the first inclina- 
tion that intrigues the mind and emotions. However, we should be 
ready to give up our position if it is shown by the Word of God to be 
faulty. Biblical interpreters must continually be on guard against them- 
selves. As James said himself, "But each one is tempted when he is 
carried away and enticed by his own lust." 

Finally, as students of the Bible, we must continually recognize that 
encounters such as these are not exercises in futility, but rather are a 
blessing to our soul as we grow in Christian maturity and become more 
familiar with the Word of God. We must continually approach the Bible 

Grace Theological Journal 12.1 (1992) 99-118 







Debate has been engaged for more than a century over what im- 
plications, if any, a Greek First Class Conditional (FCC) has concern- 
ing the proposition in its protasis. Some pedagogical grammars claim 
that the Greek FCC is well translated with the English causative con- 
struction introduced with "since. " In this paper a twofold approach is 
used to show that this claim is in error. 

First, a methodology for formulating and testing hypotheses con- 
cerning historical languages is established. The methodology is based 
on a Popperian view of hypothesis testing. In this case a testable hy- 
pothesis is formed utilizing the descriptive apparatus of H. P. Grice. 
The hypothesis is that the FCC is well translated with English "since" 
and it is proven false. 

Second, the testimony of four ancient Greek grammarians is eval- 
uated. The grammarians examined are: Dionysius Thrax (1st century 
BCE), Apollonius Dyscolus (2nd century CE), Stephanos and Hel- 
liodorus (Byzantine period). It is shown that these grammarians agree 
with the conclusion that it is not appropriate to translate the FCC with 
an English causal introduced by "since. " 


Does a Koine Greek conditional sentence introduced by si ("if") 
with the indicative imply the truth of the proposition in its prota- 
sis? Debate on this issue has been engaged for over 100 years. In the 
19th century two of the major participants in the debate were William 


Goodwin 1 and Basil Gildersleeve. 2 Early in this century, A. T. Robert- 
son, 3 claiming to be in the Gildersleevian tradition, asserted that the 
truth of the proposition in the protasis is implied to be true or at least 
assumed true for the sake of argument. Some modern pedagogical 
grammars follow Robertson's assertions and carry them to an extreme 
that Robertson himself did not. 

These pedagogical grammars claim that a Greek conditional intro- 
duced by 8i with the indicative should be translated with an English 
causal construction. That is, a sentence like: 

(la) Ei oo v auvr|ysp6r|Ts xco Xpiaxcp id avco ^titsIts (Col 3:1) 

should be translated with the causal (lb) below and not with the condi- 
tional (lc). 

(lb) Since then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the 
things above. 

(lc) If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the 
things above. 

They claim that sentence (la) implies that the proposition in its prota- 
sis, namely, "You have been raised up with Christ," is true and for this 
reason an English causal sentence should be used. Recently, James 
Boyer 4 argued that such a claim is in error. 

This debate has been clouded by at least two factors: ambiguity of 
terms and hypotheses formulated in an untestable manner. For this rea- 
son, no one has achieved a level of proof on which all can agree. How- 
ever, H. P. Grice 5 has developed linguistic theory which provides a 
descriptive apparatus in which testable hypotheses concerning implica- 
tions can be formulated. Using Grice's descriptive apparatus it is pos- 

^illiam Goodwin, "The classification of Conditional Sentences in Greek Syntax," 
in Journal of Philology 15 (1874) 188-205; "'Shall' and 'Should' in Protasis, and Their 
Greek Equivalents," in Journal of Philology 18 (1877) 18-38; Syntax of the Moods and 
Tenses of the Greek Verb (London: MacMillan, 1889); Greek Grammar (London: Mac- 
Millan, 1879, reprinted by St. Martin's, 1878) §§ 1381-1424. 

2 Basil L. Gildersleeve, "Studies in Pindaric Syntax," in American Journal of Phi- 
lology, 3 (1882) 434-55; "A Reply to E. B. Clapp," in American Journal of Philology 9 
(1888) 491-92; "Stahl's Syntax of the Greek Verb," in American Journal of Philology 
30(1909) 1-21. 

3 A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Re- 
search (Nashville: Broadman, 1934). 

4 James L. Boyer, "First Class Conditionals, What Do They Mean?" in Grace 
Theological Journal 2.1 (1981) 75-114. 

5 H. P. Grice, "Logic and Conversation," in Syntax and Semantics 3, Speech Acts, 
ed. P. Cole and J. P. Morgan (New York: Academic, 1975) 41-58; H. P. Grice, "Further 
Notes on Logic and Conversation," in Syntax and Semantics 9, Pragmatics, ed. J. M. Sa- 
dock (New York: Academic, 1978) 113-27. 


sible to define a clear and unambiguous hypothesis to test whether or not 
the claim of these pedagogical grammars is indeed sound. In the fol- 
lowing paper, the assertions of some grammarians over the past century 
are reviewed. The claim of the pedagogical grammars which assert that 
a first class conditional should be translated with English "since" is for- 
mulated into a testable hypothesis. The methodology employed proves 
unambiguously that conditional sentences introduced with si plus the 
indicative do not imply the truth of the proposition in the protasis. 

In the debate over the implications of Greek conditionals, no one 
has gone back to examine what ancient Greek grammarians said about 
the issue. A second purpose of this paper is to do just that. The relevant 
claims of Greek grammarians from 200 B.C. to a.d. 600 are reviewed. 
These confirm that conditional sentences introduced with si with the 
indicative do not imply that the proposition in the protasis is true. 


There are two conditional particles in Greek: si and sdv. Readers 
of this paper not familiar with Greek may, for the time being, consider 
both si and sdv to mean "if" neglecting any differences in meaning 
between them. Greek also has a causal particle etiei which is well 
translated by the English "since." 

Many grammarians categorize the Greek conditionals in different 
ways and use different names for their categories. Only two of the 
forms of the conditionals will be discussed in this paper: the forms 
many grammarians call the first and third class conditionals. The 
causal construction will also be discussed. The following notational 
shorthand will be used to refer to these constructions. 

Shorthand Syntactic form Common name 

si p,q si + indicative, indicative first class conditional 

sdv p,q sdv + subjunctive, indicative third class conditional 
etcei p,q etiei + indicative, indicative causal construction 

In this notation, "p" and "q" are variables representing clauses in the 
protasis and apodosis respectively. 


A. William Goodwin 

William Goodwin sets forth his claims in no uncertain terms: 

(2) Probably no grammarian would now maintain the absurdity that the 
indicative in the protasis expresses either "certainty in fact" or 
"what is believed by the speaker to be true." . . . Most grammarians 


are eager to disclaim any connection between the "certainty" here 
intended and the matter of fact or even opinion; and thus they 
reduce the "certainty" to a harmless abstraction, which is utterly 
valueless as a definition . . . 

I have now nothing to change the statement which I made in 
1864, . . . Every example that I have met has only confirmed the 
opinion, which I now express with the greatest confidence that 
there is no inherent distinction between the present indicative [si 
p,q] and present subjunctive [sdv p,q] in the protasis, except that 
of time (Goodwin's emphasis). 

Goodwin spends the bulk of his article on aspectual and temporal 
differences between conditionals of the form sdv p,q and si p,q when 
the proposition q is expressed with a future indicative. 

B. Basil Gildersleeve 

Concerning the first class condition Gildersleeve says: 

(3) It is used of that which can be brought to the standard of fact; but 
the standard may be for or against the truth of the postulate. All 
the logical condition [si p,q] asserts in the inexorable connection 
of the two members of the sentence. It is the favorite condition in 
argument . . . when one wishes to be or seem fair . . . when one is 
sure of the premise. . . . But so long as the negative continues to 
be [ir\, the conditional and the causal do not coincide. ... In 
prose, it is semi-causal. 7 

An observation to make concerning this passage is that Gildersleeve 
does not say that si p,q implies that the proposition p is true like a 
causal ettei p,q does. On the contrary, he even says it does not do so. 
Robertson claims to be in the Gildersleevian tradition. However, the 
terminology he uses is not as concise as Gildersleeve's and he has been 
interpreted by some to suggest more than Gildersleeve did, namely that 
si p,q implies the truth of p. 

C. A. T. Robertson 

Robertson says concerning these conditionals: 

(4) This theory in brief is that there are four classes of conditions 
which fall into two groups or types. The two types are the deter- 

6 Goodwin, "Conditional Sentences in Greek Syntax," in Journal of Philology 15 
(1874) 189-90. 

7 Gildersleeve, "Studies in Pindaric Syntax," in American Journal of Philology 3 


mined [ei p,q is in this group] and the undetermined [sdv p,q is in 
this group]. The point in "determined" [si p,q] is that the premise 
or condition is assumed to be true. . . . The indicative is used for 
this type . . . The other type is the undetermined condition. Natu- 
rally the indicative is not allowed here. The element of uncer- 
tainty calls for the subj. or the optative. ... In broad outline 
these four classes of conditions may be termed Reality [si p,q], 
Unreality, Probability [sdv p,q] and Possibility. . . . This brings 
us to the other theory . . . expounded by Goodwin. . . . Goodwin 
confuses the "fact" with the "statement" of the fact. He describes 
his first condition thus: "When the protasis simply states a present 
or past particular supposition, implying nothing as to the fulfill- 
ment of the condition, it takes a present or past tense of the indic- 
ative with si." The words to which I object ... are "implying 
nothing as to the fulfillment of the condition." This condition [si 
p,q] pointedly implies the fulfillment of the condition. . . . This is 
the crux of the whole matter (Robertson's emphasis). 

Robertson moderates his stance slightly to account for the many 
examples in which si p,q clearly does not imply truth of the proposi- 
tion in the protasis. Such an instance is Matt 12:27, where Jesus says, 
"If [si] I cast out demons by Beelzebul ..." Concerning this Robert- 
son says, 

(5) This class of condition [si p,q] assumes the condition to be a 
reality and the conclusion follows logically and naturally from 
that assumption . . . This condition therefore, taken at face value, 
assumes the condition to be true. The context or other light must 
determine the actual situation. This is a good example (cf. also 
Gal 5:11) to begin with, since the assumption is untrue in fact, 
though assumed to be true by Jesus for sake of argument. 

What Robertson is saying here is that Matt 12:27 should be translated, 
"Assuming for the moment that I do cast out demons by Beelze- 
bul ..." instead of with the causative, "Since I cast out demons by 
Beelzebul ..." In this statement Robertson makes it clear that he is 
not asserting that the propositions in the protasis are in fact true. 

However, Robertson's claims are vague and untestable. He calls 
the condition of the type ei p,q "determined," in contrast to "undeter- 
mined." He calls it a condition of "reality," in contrast to "possibility." 
He says that this condition assumes the premise to be true, in another 
that it pointedly implies the fulfillment of the condition and finally that 

8 Robertson, Greek Grammar (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 1004. 
9 Robertson, Greek Grammar, 1005-6. 
10 Robertson, Greek Grammar, 1007-8. 


it assumes the condition to be a reality. Apparently misunderstanding 
Robertson, some pedagogical grammars, which claim Robertson as 
their authority, have gone so far as to identify conditionals of the form 
si p,q with causal constructions. 

D. The Claim of Summer's Pedagogical Grammar 

Only one of the pedagogical grammars is quoted here as an 
example of what some of Robertson's followers claim. Others may be 
examined by the interested reader. 11 Ray Summers, in his pedagogical 
grammar says, 

(6) The first class condition [si p,q] affirms the reality of the condi- 
tion . . . "si uaOsTod too Kupiou eousv aco0f|asTai" . . . This con- 
struction is best translated, "Since we are disciples of the Lord, 

i 9 

we shall be saved.' 

E. Boyer's Rebuttal 

Boyer attributes much of the confusion in this argument to Rob- 
ertson's unclear terminology. Furthermore, he notes that Robertson is 
inconsistent in the application of his theory to conditionals in his com- 
mentary Word Pictures. In Word Pictures sometimes Robertson notes 
that a protasis is assumed true, but in many cases where it is obviously 
false, he fails to mention that a first class conditional is used in the 
Greek. 13 

Boyer sought to bring some focus to this debate by examining all 
of the conditionals in the New Testament. He used gramcord to search 
the New Testament for all the examples of each kind of condition. 
He then sorted first class conditionals into three groups: (1) instances 
where the condition was obviously true, (2) instances where the condi- 
tion was obviously false, (3) instances where the condition was unde- 
termined. According to his classification, 115 of the condition in the 
NT are obviously true and 36 are obviously false. 15 He considers these 

Some other grammars which assert claims like Summers' are: F. Blass, A. De- 
brunner and R. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and other Early Christian 
Literature (Chicago: University Press, 1961); H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey, A Manual 
Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto: Macmillan, 1957); Huber L. Drum- 
wright, An Introduction to New Testament Greek (Nashville: Broadman, 1980). 

12 Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville: Broadman, 1950) 

13 Boyer, "First Class Conditionals," GTJ 2.1 (1981) 79-80. 

14 Boyer's work is reported in four articles in Grace Theological Journal. In addi- 
tion to the one cited above there are: "Second Class Conditions in New Testament 
Greek," 3.1 (1982) 81-88; "Third (and Fourth) Class Conditionals," 3.2 (1982) 163-75; 
"Other Conditional Elements in New Testament Greek," 4.2 (1983) 173-88. 

15 Boyer, "First Class Conditionals," GTJ 2.1 (1981) 76. 


36 conditions in the obviously false category to be counterexamples to 
those who would translate the si p,q with "since." 

Boyer's work is exhaustive and convincing. However, there is still 
an element of uncertainty in Boyer's analysis because the methodology 
by which he separated the conditions into categories of "obviously 
true" and "obviously false" is apparently his own intuition. There are 
many examples in his obviously false category concerning which it is 
not so obvious that they are false. For example: 

(7a) If [ei] you are the Christ, tell us. Luke 22:67 

(7b) If [ei] to others I am not an apostle, yet I am to you. 1 Cor 9:2 

In sentence (7a), Jesus was in fact the Christ, though the speakers of 
this sentence may not have believed He was. In (7b) there were in fact 
others who believed Paul was not an apostle, which makes the protasis 
in fact true, even though Paul was in fact an apostle and believed him- 
self to be one. 


Significant progress has been made in linguistic description in the 
past two decades in the area of implications. The work of H. P. Grice 
is foundational in this area. Many unambiguous tests for identifying 
and proving the existence of implicatures have been developed. One 
of these tests will aid us in this endeavor. 

Grice made a useful distinction between two kinds of implicature: 
conventional implicature and conversational implicature. A conven- 
tional implicature is one which is associated with the meaning of the 
words and the grammar of a sentence, which cannot be canceled by the 
context. For example, f active verbs 19 have the conventional implicature 

16 See n. 5 above. 

17 Grice defined the term "implicature" saying, "I wish to introduce as terms of art, 
the verb implicate and the related nouns implicature (cf. implying) and implicatum (cf. 
what is implied). The point of this maneuver is to avoid having, on each occasion, to 
choose between this or that member of the family of verbs for which implicature is to do 
general duty" (Grice [1975] 43, 44). Generally speaking, one may think of an implica- 
ture as an implication. But Grice introduced this unique term, because terms like "impli- 
cation," "presupposition," and "assumption" have been used for a variety of different 
and poorly defined uses. 

Some helpful introductory texts on Gricean implicature are: Stephen C. 
Levinson, Pragmatics (Cambridge: University Press, 1983) 97-166; John Lyons, Seman- 
tics (Cambridge: University Press, 1977) 592-606; John McCawley, Everything that 
Linguists Have Always Wanted to Know About Logic (Chicago: University Press, 1981) 

19 Factive verbs are verbs which presuppose the truth of their complements. This 
class of verbs was first identified by Paul and Carol Kiparsky in their article "Fact" in 
Progress in Linguistics, ed. M. Bierwisch and K. Heidolf (The Hague: Mouton, 1970) 


that the proposition in their complement is true. Evaluative verbs 
have a conversational implicature that the proposition in their comple- 
ment is true. Consider the following sentences with the factive verb 
"regret" and the evaluative verb "criticize." 

(8a) I regretted that John told a lie. 
(8b) I criticized John for telling a lie. 

The complement's proposition in both cases is the same: "John told a 
lie." But what about the implicatures? Does a person who utters (8a) or 
(8b) implicate that John told a lie? It may seem that both sentences do, 
but on closer inspection we find that they are different with respect to 

A common test for implicature is to place the utterance in a con- 
text which attempts to cancel the implicature. If a sentence with a con- 
ventional implicature is placed in a context which attempts to cancel 
the implicature, a pragmatically ill-formed sentence results. If a sen- 
tence with a conversational implicature is placed in a context which 
attempts to cancel the implicature, the implicature is canceled and the 
sentence remains well formed. For example the sentences in (8) are put 
in such contexts in (9) below. 

(9a) #1 regretted that John told a lie, but I shouldn't have regretted it 
because it was Joe who lied. 

(9b) I criticized John for telling a lie, but I shouldn't have criticized 
him because it was Joe who lied. 

I use a pound symbol (#) to the left of a sentence to indicate that the sen- 
tence is pragmatically ill-formed. Since (9a) is ill-formed, this proves 
that the sentence (8a) has a conventional implicature that John told a lie. 
In sentence (9b) the implicature that John told a lie is canceled by the 

143-73. Some examples of factive verbs in English which take object clause comple- 
ments introduced by that are: regret, resent, deplore, be odd, be glad. Some examples of 
factive verbs in Greek which take object clause complements introduced by on are: 0au- 
ud^co, X.av8dva), ^aipco, }iU7ieouai, |xetaue^o(jai. See L. W. Ledgerwood, "Syntactic Insu- 
lation of Factive Clauses," in The Journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest 
5.2(1982) 105, 112. 

20 Evaluative verbs are verbs like criticize, accuse, praise, congratulate. Filmore first 
identified this class of verbs in C. Filmore, "An Exercise in Semantic Description," in 
Studies in Linguistic Semantics, ed. C. J. Filmore and D. T. Langendoen (New York: Holt, 
1972) 273-89. Karttunen and Peters showed that the implicature associated with them was 
not conventional but conversational. Lauri Karttunen and Stanley Peters, "Conventional 
Implicature," in Syntax and Semantics 9, Presupposition (New York: Academic, 1979). 


context without resulting in a pragmatically ill-formed sentence. There- 
fore the implicature in (8b) was a conversational implicature. 

English causal sentences have a conventional implicature that the 
proposition in their protasis is true but English conditionals do not. 
Sentences (10) below illustrate this. Sentence (10a) implicates conven- 
tionally that the moon is full, but sentence (10b) does not. 

(10a) Since the moon is full, it is opposite the sun. 
(10b) If the moon is full, it is opposite the sun. 

To speakers of English this seems intuitively obvious. However, this 
claim may be moved beyond the realm of intuition by placing both 
sentences in a context that attempts to cancel the implicature as shown 
in sentences (11) below. 

(11a) #Since the moon is full, it is opposite the sun; but the moon is 
not full today. 

(lib) If the moon is full, it is opposite the sun; but the moon is not 
full today. 

This suggests a way to formulate a test of Summers' claim that si p,q is 
best translated with English "since p,q." Summers' claim entails si p,q 

2 'By using Gricean terminology in this paper I do not mean to imply that Grice has 
said the last word on implicature. There have been challenges to Grice's methodology. 
Most recently several books and papers have appeared proposing relevance theory 
as superior to the Gricean framework. Relevance theory and discussions of the problems 
with Grice's theory are contained in: Dianne Blakemore, "The Organization of Dis- 
course," in Linguistics, The Cambridge Survey Vol. 4, ed. Frederick J. Newmeyer (Cam- 
bridge: University Press, 1988); Dianne Blakemore, Semantic Constraints on Relevance 
(Oxford: Blackwells, 1987); Ruth Kempson, "Grammar and Conversational Principles," 
in Linguistics, The Cambridge Survey Vol. 1, ed. Frederick J. Newmeyer (Cambridge: 
University Press, 1988); D. Sperber and D. Wilson, Relevance, Communication and 
Cognition (Oxford, Blackwells, 1986). 

Two comments are offered in defense of applying Gricean terminology in this pa- 
per. First, most of the challenges to Grice's work have come in the area of what he called 
conversational implicatures (for example, Jerrold M. Sadock, "On Testing for Conversa- 
tional Implicature," in Syntax and Semantics 9, Pragmatics, ed. P. Cole [New York: Ac- 
ademic, 1977]). The notion of conversational implicature is not used in this paper; 
conventional implicatures are. (For more on conventional implicature see the following 
papers by Lauri Karttunen and Stanley Peters: "Requiem for Presupposition," in Papers 
from the Third Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society, 360-71; "Conven- 
tional Implicature," in Syntax and Semantics 11, Presupposition (New York: Academic, 
1979); "Presuppositions of Compound Sentences," in Linguistic Inquiry, vol. 4 (1973) 
169-93. Secondly, the goal of this paper is to show that by making use of a methodology 
like that of Grice, one can formulate clear and testable hypotheses which facilitate com- 
munication and advance research in applied areas such as this. These arguments could be 
reformulated in terms of relevance theory without changing the result. 


having a conventional implicature that the proposition p is true. Sum- 
mers' claim can be formulated in a hypothesis based on this entail- 

(12) Summers' hypothesis: Sentences of the form si p,q have the 
conventional implicature that p is true. 

Formulating his hypothesis in this manner yields one that is very test- 
able. If indeed si p,q does have a conventional implicature that the 
proposition p is true, then it will not occur in contexts which cancel 

In an investigation of Koine Greek, it is not possible to record 
speech of native speakers nor to quiz them concerning their intuitions 
about their language. So, a disciplined methodology is needed for test- 
ing hypotheses from texts. David Lightfoot says in his Principles of 


Diachronic Syntax, "One can never demonstrate the truth of a the- 
ory, only its falsity. Thus progress in scientific endeavors can be 
viewed as the successive elimination of theories shown by empirical 
investigation to be false." I take this somewhat Popperian view of sci- 
entific progress to be axiomatic. Thus the historical grammarian's goal 
is to formulate hypotheses that are well enough defined that they can 
be proven false. No hypotheses will ever be proven true in an inductive 
endeavor such as this; they will only be supported by arguments from 
silence. The confidence that may be placed in a hypothesis will be a 
function of how "silent" the text is; that is, of how many possibilities 
were examined in which the hypothesis could have been proven false 
and was not. 

Large volumes of Greek texts must be searched to find whether si 
p,q occurs in contexts which cancel the implicature. If si p,q is not 
found in such contexts, then this will be an argument from silence that 
it contains a conventional implicature. This is a weak argument. But if 
si p,q is ever found in a context in which the implicature is canceled, 
then it will be proven that the si p,q does not have a conventional 
implicature that p is true. 

A systematic way of searching large amounts of text to look for 
examples like this is to imagine discourse forms which always cancel 
the proposition in the protasis. Sometimes this process can be made 
regular enough that a computer may be used to do some of the search- 
ing for such occurrences. For example, two conditionals linked by an 
adversative or disjunctive with the second protasis negated is such a 

David Lightfoot, Principles of Diachronic Syntax (Cambridge: University Press, 
1974) 74f. 


(13) if p then q but if not p then r 

Another construction which cancels the proposition in the protasis is a 
modus tolens argument which has the form: 

(14) if p then q, but not q, therefore not p 


The first two books of Arrian's Discourses of Epictetus, the 
Cynic Epistles 24 and the New Testament, all dating from around the 
first century a.d., have been searched for examples in which a condi- 
tional of the form si p,q occurs in a context in which the proposition p 
is negated. Such examples are abundant. Following are some of them. 25 

A. Examples of the Form ei p,q but si not p,r 

(15a) ei yap uf| sialv ©soi, n&q sail xeXoc, sttsgQcxi ©sou;; ei 5' sialv 
uev, ur|8ev6<; 5' s7uue?ioi5uevoi, icai ooxtoc; k&c, uyis^ screen; 
For if [si] there are not gods, how is it an end to serve gods? 
But if [ei] there are and they don't care, how will this be sound? 

Epictetus 1.12.4 

(15b) Ei uev ouv d8iKco kcu a^iov Gavdxoo nzitpaxa u, ou TtapaixoC- 
uai to drcoGavsTv, si 5s ou5sv screw . . . 

If [si] I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything worthy 
of death, I do not refuse to die; but if [si] none of those things 
are true . . . 

(Acts 25:11) 

Note that in both of these cases, translation with "since" is not possible 
because the conventional implicature that "since" generates is canceled. 

(16a) #Since there are not gods . . . , but since there are . . . 

(16b) #Since I am a wrongdoer . . . , but since none of these things are 
true . . . 

Epictetus in Epictetus, the Discourses as Reported by Arian, T. E. Page et al., 
eds. (Cambridge: Harvard, 1967). Also the machine readable text of Epictetus' Dis- 
courses encoded in the Thesaurus Linguae Graeca database at the University of Califor- 
nia at Irvine was used. 

24 Abraham J. Malherbe, The Cynic Epistles (Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1977). 

25 0ther examples not listed here are: Epictetus 1.12.4, 1.29.7, II. 1.17, II.2.24, 
II.4.4, II.5.25, 11.10.13, II.15.6; Malherbe, The Cynic Epistles, Crates 30, p. 80, 1. 6; 35, 
p. 88, 1. 19; Diogenes 5, p. 96, 1. 1; 24, p. 116, 1. 10. In the NT see Matt 12:27-28, 
26:39-40; Luke 11:19-20; John 10:37; 18:23; 1 Cor 9:17; James 2:2-9. 


B. An Example of a Modus Tolens Argument 

(17) Ei 5s dvdaxaoic; vsKpcov ouk egtiv, ou8s XpiaToc, syfiysp- 
xai . . . Nuvl 8s Xpiooc, syr^yspTai ek vsKpwv . . . 

But [si] if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has 
been raised. . . . But now Christ has been raised from the dead. . . . 

1 Cor 15:13,20 

Note that the argument makes no sense if ei is translated with "since" 
because Paul intends for the Corinthians to deduce that there is a resur- 
rection of the dead. 

(18) #Since there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has 
been raised . . . But now Christ has been raised from the dead. 

Examples such as these disprove the Summers hypothesis as formu- 
lated above. That is, they prove that conditionals of the form si p,q do 
not have the conventional implicature that the proposition p is true. 
Therefore the English causal "since p,q" is not a good translation for si 
p,q across the board. 

C. Examples of d p,q in which p Is True 

Nevertheless, sometimes there are cases in which conditionals of 
the form si p,q can be translated with English "since." Following are 


two such examples. 

(19a) si sue s5ico^av, Kai uuac, Sub^ouaiv. 

If [si] they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. 

John 15:20 

(19b) Ei 8s KaA.dc, rjv nXdxcov Kai i<3%vp6c„ sSsi Kdus KaOrjusvov ek- 
tcoveIv, i'va KaAdc, ysvoauai f| i'va ia^poc,, coc, xoCxo dvayKaiov 
npbq (piXooocpiav, ettsi tic, cpiAoaocpoc; aua Kai KaA.dc, r\v Kai (piA.6- 

Now if [si] Plato was handsome and strong, is it necessary for me 
to sit down and strive to become handsome or strong on the 
assumption that this is necessary for philosophy, since [sTtsi] some 
philosopher was at the same time both handsome and strong? 

Epictetus 1.8.13 

For other examples in which the proposition in the protasis is true and translation 
with "since" is possible, see Malherbe, Cynic Epistles, Crates 30, p. 80 1. 8 and Sopho- 
cles Fr. 877N (sentence 28 in this paper); Rom 3:29, 30; 11:21. 


Translations with "since p,q" are appropriate for these examples as 
shown in sentences (20) below. 

(20a) Since they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. 
(20b) Since Plato was handsome and strong . . . 

To the people who originally heard these utterances, and to those who 
are acquainted with Jesus' life and Plato's physique, it is generally 
known that Jesus was in fact persecuted and that Plato was in fact hand- 
some and strong. That is, it is known from other sources that the prop- 
osition in the protasis is true. For this reason, translation with "since 
p,q" is acceptable, because the implicature generated by "since" does 
not conflict with the known facts of the case. In all the cases in the cor- 
pus under investigation where "since p,q" may be used to translate si 
p,q, it is clear from the context that p is true. The truth of p comes from 
the context, not from a supposed implicature associated with sic, p,q. 

But the fact that si p,q sometimes can and sometimes cannot be 
translated with "since p,q" indicates that there is something else going 
on in these conditionals other than conventional implicature and for 
this reason it is not appropriate to recommend a translation of si p,q as 
"since p,q." 

Why does si p,q have this on again-off again implicature? Why 
don't such implicatures occur with sdv p,q? These are not the subject of 
this paper. Answers to these questions have been proposed elsewhere. 
What this paper claims to offer is unambiguous proof that the first class 
conditional does not conventionally implicate the truth of its protasis. 

The following quotes from ancient Greek grammarians show that 
they agree with this conclusion. 


Passages from four ancient Greek grammarians are presented 
below. The grammarians are: 28 

Dionysius Thrax (1st century B.C.) 

Apollonius Dyscolus (2nd century a.d.) 

Stephanos (Byzantine period) 

Heliodorus (Byzantine period) 

27 Unpublished proposal presented by L. W. Ledgerwood at the 1989 meeting of 
the Linguistic Association of the Southwest in San Antonio, TX, and the 1990 AAR/SBL 
meeting in New Orleans, LA. 

28 The text used is found in G. Uhlig, Grammatici Graeci I I/II, Dionysii Thracis 
and Grammatici Graeci, II II/III, Apollonii Dyscoli (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1878— 
1910, reprinted 1965). The English translations are original. 


Dionysius is the father of western grammatical tradition; however, his 
work is quite short. Stephanos and Heliodorus wrote commentaries on 
Dionysius' grammar which flesh out his arguments with example sen- 
tences. Apollonius wrote the most voluminous and original grammar 
of the four. We will examine Dionysius and his commentators first, 
then Apollonius. 

A. Dionysius Thrax 

Dionysius classed conditional and causal particles (ei "if," ercei 
"since," edv "if") along with conjunctions (kou "and," fj "or," 8e 
"but," etc.). He has only one short passage on conjunctions. The por- 
tion of this dealing with conditionals and causals is listed below. 

If Dionysius' account seems unclear, his commentators adequately 
explain his meaning. 

(21) Conditional particles are those which do not assert existence, 
but they signify consequence. They are: si, eurep, ei5ri, ei8r)7iep. 

Causal connective particles are those which assert order 
along with existence. They are e7iei, eneinep, e7tei8rj, eneibr\nep. 

Expletive conjunctions are those which are used on 
account of meter or adornment. They are: 5rj, pd, vu, ttou, xoi, 
0r)v, ap, 8fjxa, Trip, rao, jifjv, av, vCv, oov, ksv, ye (20.3.4,8). 

Note that Dionysius does not discuss the conditional particle edv. edv 
is constructed from ei plus the modal particle av. He mentions the 
modal particle av under Expletive Conjunctions. 29 

B. Dionysius' Commentators, Stephanos and Heliodorus 

(22) The conditional particles differ from the causal connective par- 
ticles as follows: the conditional particles only connect proposi- 
tions, they do not affirm the reality. For example, if I say, "If 
[ei] the sun is over the land," it is not clear whether the sun is 
over the land. But the causal connective particle, in addition 
signifying consequence and connecting to another proposition 

Dionysius has lumped a lot of different types of particles into his "Expletive 
Conjunctions." His statement about them indicates that he considers that they add little 
or no meaning to a text. Rather, they are added simply to make meter (i.e., in poetry) 
come out right and to add adornment. It seems that he really did not know what to do 
with these. Apollonius discusses a theory which said that expletive conjunctions merely 
"fill up the empty holes in a text" and takes strong objection to this theory. He says that 
each of the expletive conjunctions adds some special meaning such as "transition in 
logic" for 5rj, "moderation" for ye, etc. (III. 127-29). Unfortunately, he does not tell us 
what the special meaning of av or lav is. 


also affirms the reality, for example, "since [inei] the sun is 
over the land, it is day" (Stephanos, in Uhlig 1965 I/III, 
p. 284.30). 

(23) Of the conjunctions, some assert existence, others assert order 
and others both. Coordinating conjunctions [i.e., kcu "and"] 
assert existence. For example, if I say, "God and day and justice 
exist," everything is affirmed. 30 The conditional particles dis- 
close order. For example, if I say, "If I am walking I am mov- 
ing," the sentence holds consequence, but it is not also affirmed; 
for I can say this while I am sitting. But if I turn it around, the 
truth is destroyed. For example, "Whenever [oxav] I am mov- 
ing, I am walking" is not true, for it is possible for me, while 
sitting, to move something. The causal connective particles 
have both the reality of the coordinating conjunctions and the 
order of the conditional particles; for "Since [sttsi] I am walk- 
ing, I am moving" is both affirmed and has order. In the same 
way, it being turned around is no longer true (Stephanos, in 
Uhlig 1965 I/III, p. 286.5). 

(24) The difference between the coordinating conjunction and the 
conditional particle is this: the coordinating conjunctions have 
the force of reality but they are unordered with respect to the 
flow of speech. For example, "I am walking and I am thinking," 
and the reverse, "I am thinking and I am walking." But the 
conditional particles do not affirm the force of reality; rather 
they affirm the consequence of the expression and they preserve 
the order. For example, "If [si] I shall walk, I shall be moving." 
But I may not say, "If [el] I shall be moving, I shall be walk- 
ing," for it is false (Heliodorus in Uhlig 1965 I/III 105.10). 

(25) The conditional conjunction stands in place of sriv, in "If [si] 
there is light, it is day." ... It also, stands in place of the causal 
connective particle STisi in, "Since [si] you have done terrible 
things, you must suffer terrible things." 

One must see that the causal connective particles have this 
much more than the conditional particles, they not only have 

30 By "Everything is affirmed," Stephanos means that a person who utters the 
phrase, "God and day and justice exist," is asserting that God exists, it is presently day 
and justice is presently occurring. On the contrary, a person saying, "If I am walking, I 
am moving," does not assert that he is presently walking or moving. 

Heliodorus is saying that with the conjunction Kai ("and") it does not matter 
what order the propositions come in. Thus, "I am walking and I am thinking" means the 
same as "I am thinking and I am walking." However, in the case of the conjunction si, 
changing the order changes the meaning. 


consequence and order, but also they indicate the existence of 
reality. For I may say, "Since [enei] it is day, there is light," 
. . . and there is not uncertainty as with the conditional particle 
(Heliodorus in Uhlig 1965 I/III, pp. 439.4-11). 

Dionysius and his commentators address specifically the questions of 
implicata of Greek conditionals. They here are interested in two prop- 
erties of the so-called conjunctions. These are: (1) existence and (2) 
what they refer to as consequence and order. The following definitions 
of these terms are proposed for these passages. 

Existence: Uttering the phrase implies that the propositions joined 

by the conjunction are true in reality. 
Consequence: There is a logical or causal relationship between the 

phrases joined by the conjunction. 
Order: The linear order of the propositions in speech flow is 

significant. The order cannot be reversed. 

The Greek grammarians quoted above tell us that their so-called con- 
junctions have the following properties: 

Conjunction Properties 

Coordinating Conj. (kcu, and) existence 

Conditional Conj. (ei, if) consequence and order 

Causal Conj. (sTtsi, since) existence, consequence and order 

The examples they give leave no doubt as to their conclusion. Stepha- 
nos gives the sentences: 

(26a) If [si] the sun is over the land, it is day. 
(26b) Since [enei] the sun is over the land, it is day. 

He says that (26a) does not imply that the sun is over the land while 
(26b) does. 

Of particular interest is Heliodorus statement in quote (25) above. 
He says that si may be used in place of edv and gives an example 
repeated as (27) below and that si may be used in place of stiei and 
gives an example repeated in (28) below. 

(27) If [si] there is light, there is day. 

(28) Since [si] you have done terrible things, you must suffer terrible 
things (Soph Fr 877 N). 

Sentence (27) is a statement of general truth. It does not assert that it is 
necessarily day or not, it just asserts the entailment that whenever it is 


light, it is day. It seems that Heliodorus considers it more natural to 
make such a generalized statement in Greek with sdv p,q (what Good- 
win called the present general condition: sdv and the present subjunc- 
tive in the protasis and a present indicative in the apodosis). But he 
gives sentence (27) as an example of a case in which ei p,q means the 
same as the present general condition sdv p,q. Sentence (28) is an 
example of si p,q being used in a context in which it is clear that p is 
true. In this example, he says that si p,q means about the same as E7isi 


Yet, he cannot mean that si and s^si are equivalent in meaning, 
for he says clearly in other passages that etcsi p,q implies that the prop- 
osition p is true in reality while si p,q does not. He just observes, as 
has been observed above (pp. 110-11), that si can sometimes be used 
where the causal could also be used. 

C. Apollonius Dyscolus (from Syntax, Book HI) 

In the following passage Apollonius is discussing the origin of the 
names of the moods. Previous to this passage, he has dealt with the 
indicative and optative and shown that these names ("Indicative" and 
"Optative") come from the meaning of the mood. But in the case of the 
subjunctive, the term subjunctive does not refer to a quality of its 
meaning, but to its syntax. That is, it occurs primarily in clauses that 
are subjected (i.e., subordinated) to another clause and it got its name 
from this property. Specifically here he is refuting the theory that the 
subjunctive should be called the dubative. 

This naming theory is relevant to the discussion at hand in that 
Apollonius asserts that conditionals with si and sdv have about the 
same degree of doubt. Furthermore, he is the only grammarian to say 
anything substantive about the conditional sdv p,q. 

(29) Next it is necessary to speak about the subjunctive mood which 
some call dubative because of its meaning, just as also the pre- 
viously mentioned moods have received their names. For it is 
clear that "If [sdv] I ever write" and the like express a doubt 
concerning a future matter. 

But perhaps someone will object that these [i.e., the 
moods] are not the source of the sense of doubt, but the accom- 
panying conjunction is the source of doubt. Now, if it is reason- 

32 Two very helpful works on Apollonius have recently appeared. They are: David 
L. Blank, Ancient Philosophy and Grammar, The Syntax of Apollonius Dyscolus (Chico, 
CA: Scholars, 1982); and a translation of Apollonius' extant books on syntax in F. W. 
Householder, The Syntax of Apollonius Dyscolus (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1981). 
Another helpful work discussing Apollonius' model of AN is R. Camerer, "Die Behand- 
lung der Parikel AN in den Schristen des Apollonius Dyskolos," in Hermes 93 (1965) 


able to name verb forms after the meaning of their conjunctions, 
then nothing prevents us from changing the names of the other 
moods also when they receive this meaning from their conjunc- 
tions. . . . Roughly speaking, "If [si] you are talking you are 
moving" falls under the same doubt as "If [edv] you walk you 
will move," but "If [si] you are walking" is not called dubative 

Apollonius' point is that an indicative introduced by si is just as duba- 
tive as a subjunctive introduced by sdv. Therefore the source of the 
dubative meaning is not the mood (subjunctive or indicative) but the 
conjunction (sav or si) is the source. This is important for evaluating 
Robertson's model of Greek conditionals, because Robertson bases his 
classification of conditionals primarily on the distinctions between the 
moods accompanying the conjunction. 

In the following passages, Apollonius gives us an interesting 
statement concerning the tenses which are grammatical with sdv p,q. 

(30) The above-mentioned mood [the subjunctive] with the conjunc- 
tion sdv and its equivalents is accompanied by the future or 
present tense. For example, "If [sdv] I study Dion will come," 
and "If [sdv] I ever read, Tryphon comes." For a past tense is 
ungrammatical (3.131). 

(31) It is necessary also to examine the syntax of the conjunctions, to 
determine why they refuse the endings of the past tense. For the 
syntax of "If [sdv] I was saying" is not acceptable, or "If [sdv] 
I have trusted" and the like ... It is evident that the cause of 
such ungrammaticality is the conflict of the past tense with the 
meaning of the conjunction. For they present a doubt about com- 
ing matters and also about those matters to be completed. . . . 

33 One would like very much to know what Apollonius meant by "Its equivalents" 
(ioo8uvauouvTcov). He probably means the terms edv, edvrcep ("if indeed") and the like, 
since Dionysius classes si with eircep, etc. However, would Apollonius include otciv 
("whenever") in this class? Both edv and Stciv are constructed by adding dv to another 
particle, edv comes from ei + dv; otcxv comes from ore + dv. Both edv and oxav take the 
subjunctive, otcxv is frequently interchangeable with edv. (For example, note that Steph- 
anos uses otciv for edv [quote (23) above].) In spite of these similarities, there are ex- 
amples of otcxv with the indicative, used to express an iterative sense, which cannot be 
written off as grammatical quirks. See for example: Polybius IV. 32. 5, Ignatius Eph 8:1, 
Exod 17:11 (LXX), Num 11:9 (LXX), 1 Sam 17:34 (LXX), Ps 119:7 (LXX), Mark 3:11, 
11:19. Apollonius does not tell us what he thinks about such uses of otciv. 

34 "If I was saying" (edv eX.eyov) is edv plus an imperfect indicative verb. "If I 
have trusted" (edv 7te7toi9ct) is edv plus a perfect indicative verb. One would have to use 
the conjunction ei instead of edv to make these sentences grammatical in Greek. For edv 
to be used grammatically, it must be used with a subjunctive, which is atemporal. 


Because how can that which has happened be brought together 
with that which is coming? (3.137-138). 

In the quote (30), Apollonius is saying that in sav p,q, the proposition 
q cannot be in the past tense of the indicative. In the quote (31), he is 
saying that the proposition p may not be in the past tense of the indic- 
ative. This second statement seems a bit odd, because sdv is not sup- 
posed to have any form of the indicative in the protasis proposition p, 
no matter what tense. 

The import of this passage for this investigation is as follows. 
Apollonius said earlier that si p,q and sdv p,q have about the same 
degree of doubt, but in this passage he seems to consider sdv p,q more 
dubative in some way than si p,q, though he does not explicitly say so. 
For he says that there is a conflict between the meaning of the past 
tense and the meaning of the conjunction sdv. But he and we both 
know that the conditional si can be constructed with past tense indica- 
tives in either the protasis or apodosis. So, either sdv seems more 
dubative to him in some way than si, or he had not thought out thor- 
oughly the consequences of his statement. 


It has been proven, and the ancient Greek grammarians agree, that 
a conditional of the form si p,q does not have a conventional implica- 
ture that the proposition p is true. 

Conditionals of the form si p,q should not be translated across the 
board with the English causal "since p,q." Such a translation is appro- 
priate in some cases, but is not in the majority. In the few cases that si 
p,q can be translated with "since p,q," the English "if p,q" will also be 
appropriate because, in these cases the context carries the implication 
that the proposition p is true. The use of English "since p,q" in these 
cases only adds redundancy. 

Robertson's assertions are unclear. The way that he is interpreted 
by some today yields an erroneous analysis of conditionals. Robertson 
claims to be in the tradition of Gildersleeve; however, he went farther 
than Gildersleeve went. Gildersleeve never said that si p,q implies the 

35 It is noted here that in Apollonius' day, significant diachronic changes in the syn- 
tax of conditionals were occurring. The conditional si was dying out and the conditional 
edv was taking over. Not long after Apollonius' day, sdv came to be used with the indic- 
ative (see A. N. Jannaris, An Historical Greek Grammar [Hildesheim: George Olms, 
1968] §§ 1772 and 1987). There are some examples of edv used with the indicative in 
the NT (1 Thess 3:8, 1 John 5:15, Luke 19:40, Acts 8:31). These may be a reflection of 
this change. However, these grammarians were writing about the classical forms of their 
language, the language as they felt it should be. At any rate, diachronic factors are ne- 
glected in this paper for simplicity. 


proposition p is true; some read Robertson as saying that it does. The 
ancient Greek grammarians disagree with Robertson and those in his 
tradition, but they do not disagree with either Goodwin's or Gilder- 
sleeve's claims. Goodwin and Gildersleeve were writing more about 
aspectual and temporal interpretations than about implications con- 
cerning truth. 

Bible students should not be taught that el p,q means "since p,q." 
Exegetes should be honest in their hermeneutics and should refrain 
from stating or implying in an exegesis of a passage that the Greek 
conditional si p,q itself implies that p is true. Nor should an exegete 
state that el p,q does not imply doubt like English "if p,q" can and that 
it would be better translated with "since p,q." In those cases where one 
wishes to make a point that the proposition p is not being called into 
question, it should be demonstrated that the context implies that the 
proposition p is true or that the participants in the communication 
knew that p was true in fact. 

Grace Theological Journal 12.1 (1992) 119-159 


The Message of Genesis 1-11, by David Atkinson. In The Bible Speaks Today 
series, edited by J. A. Motyer (OT Editor). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity 
Press, 1990. Pp. 190. $12.95. Paper. 

David Atkinson is Chaplain and Professor at Corpus Christi College, Ox- 
ford, England. This book is twenty-forth in the popular series The Bible 
Speaks Today. Other authors include Derek Kidner (Jeremiah, Hosea) and 
John R. W. Stott (Acts, Galatians, Ephesians). The stated purpose of this series 
is "to expound the biblical text with accuracy, to relate it to contemporary life, 
and to be readable" (p. 5). This particular volume succeeds in all three areas. 

It is Atkinson's goal to provide more personal application of Genesis than 
a commentary, yet more depth than a sermon. He acknowledges 38 related 
Genesis studies in the Bibliography and freely quotes from them; Jiirgen Molt- 
mann, Gordan Wenham, and Claus Westerman are his favorites. Atkinson 
avoids debate on the usual "hot spots" of Genesis: the length of creation days, 
theistic evolution, and the extent of the Great Flood. Instead, he approaches the 
text as through the eyes of the original writer, accepting it at face value. For 
example, regarding the Tower of Babel he writes, "The demonic powers of 
mob rule . . . directed to goals which can only lead inexorably to destruction, 
are perhaps not too far from the thoughts of their author" (p. 183). Atkinson 
explains the context and general meaning of each passage, then makes applica- 
tion. His approach is refreshing. Regarding the creation of light before the sun 
and moon, he concludes, "The writer [of Genesis] is not so stupid as to be un- 
aware there is a problem ... He is safeguarding and proclaiming something of 
the unsearchable mystery of God" (p. 17). At times the author is "soft" on ori- 
gins: he suggests that evolutionary capacity may be a gift of God (p. 29). 

Atkinson gives extended discussion of many topics: creation in God's image 
(p. 36), the concept of time (p. 44), marriage (p. 74). There is much original think- 
ing in these pages which will be helpful to the pastor. The author also interacts 
with important global issues like nuclear arms and environmental stewardship. On 
this latter topic, Atkinson concludes that Christians should be responsible "estate 
managers . . . harnessing the resources of the world for mankind's good and God's 
glory" (p. 180). One theme of this book is the repeated failure of mankind to live 
right. The sin of Adam, Cain, Lamech, the sons of God . . . each led to punish- 
ment, although with preservation and hope for the future. In the case of the Babel 
dispersion, the hope is in the future blessings to Abraham. This story, beginning 
with Genesis 12, is left for a future volume in the series. 

Considering the low price and high caliber of contributors, all of The 
Bible Speaks Today series are recommended for study. Unfortunately, these 
volumes do not contain any scripture, name, or author indexes. 

Don B. De Young 
Grace College 


Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament: Volume VI, by G. Johannes Bot- 
terweck and Helmer Ringgren, eds. Translated by David E. Green. Grand Rap- 
ids: Eerdmans, 1990. Pp. xxi +491. $39.95. Cloth. 

This sixth volume of the ongoing series Theological Dictionary of the Old 
Testament (TDOT) makes a significant contribution to the study of Hebrew 
lexicography and semantics. It contains 55 articles ranging from Vdv to 1IV 
and its derivatives. Eight contain more than 20 pages each (fir XT, 3j?lP NIP 
WV bx-\^U^ , Dt\ and the root J7tf'). The root 3D' is included in volume 5 with 
31U, and presumably 31P will be included in a future volume with 3S3. Like- 
wise, one would expect that rnin ("law," "instruction"), an important deriva- 
tive of JIT, will be discussed in the volume which includes taw. Otherwise the 
only omission of consequence would seem to be "^T/rOT. A discussion of 
"Jericho" might also have been of interest. 

The title "theological" is used in a broad sense of more or less significant 
terms that are used in the Old Testament, a manifestly theological corpus. The 
article on Di'' ("day"), for example, begins with a "general usage" (a literal 
day, a period of time, etc.) before it sets forth a "theological usage" ("day" as 
an element of creation, the setting aside of special days in worship, the "day of 
Yahweh," etc.). As M. Saeb0, writing on DV, warns, the distinction between 
"secular" and "religious" usage should not be made too sharply (p. 22). 

While the various contributors to this volume had some freedom in orga- 
nizing their articles, they generally include a section on etymology and rele- 
vant usage in the ancient Near East, the distribution of the forms within the 
Old Testament (by book, by sections such as "wisdom literature," and by crit- 
ical categories such as the "J" document or "Deutero-Isaiah"), classification of 
the various usages, equivalents in the LXX, and usage at Qumran. 

I have learned by experience that the TDOT is the best place to go for 
sound and thorough etymological information, and volume 6 is not disappoint- 
ing in this respect. J. F. Sawyer gives compelling evidence, for example, that 
the root 37$'' has "nothing to do with Arab, wasfa, 'be spacious' (IV J awsa c a, 
'give room to')" (p. 442). S. Wagner cautiously assigns HT to three distinct 
roots rather than squeezing the diverse senses of "throw," "rain," and "in- 
struct" into one root, as the BDB lexicon does. 

Most of the contributors also follow a sound semantic methodology, being 
careful to give more weight to contextual data than to etymology. As might be 
expected, Sawyer's article on VW can serve as a model for semantic analysis. 
By "establishing oppositions between it and other terms in the same semantic 
field," he shows that usually the term "implies bringing help to those in trouble 
rather than rescuing them from it" (p. 445). M. Gorg, drawing on the insights 
of H. Schweizer, makes a helpful distinction between the "mansive" ("location 
in a particular place") and "sedative" ("cessation of movement") aspects of 
3ffi*^ (p. 424). He translates Ps 29:10, "Yahweh has taken his seat over the 
flood, and [therefore now] sits enthroned as king for ever." According to this 
understanding, "[v]erse 10a documents the 'sedative' side of the verb's mean- 
ing, v. 10b the 'mansive' side. This reflects the notion that Yahweh, like the 
earthly king, takes his seat upon his throne, albeit thenceforth to exercise per- 
manent sovereignty" (p. 437). Some writers could have made more use of 


modern semantic methods than they did, but at least this latest volume of 
TDOT has overcome much of the valid criticism levied years ago by James 
Barr against the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ed. G. Kittel 
and G. Friedrich). 

The writers selected for the TDOT are generally experts in their subject 
and able to discuss firsthand sources as well as very technical secondary litera- 
ture. They also have a keen interest in the historical development of the usage 
of a biblical term, usually viewing such development within the framework of 
various modern critical theories. For example, N. Lohfink's 29 pages on U7T 
and its derivatives seems largely concerned with the evolution of a "special- 
ized Deuteronomistic usage." Or, H. -J. Zobel posits that the divine title 
"Mighty One of Jacob" goes back to "a nomadic group of herdsmen from the 
region around Safa tracing its origins back to Jacob." In "an entirely peaceful" 
process this tribe settled on both sides of the central Jordan, probably around 
1800-1500 B.C. The biblical narratives about Jacob arise after "[t]he patriarchs 
attract to themselves the local traditions of Canaan, reshaped so that they 
themselves appear as the heroes" (p. 201). Such critical views permeate the ar- 
ticles in this volume, influencing the conclusions about semantic meaning as 
well. Nonetheless, where careful linguistic methods are allowed to predomi- 
nate over critical speculations, helpful results are obtained. 

Someone with no knowledge at all of Hebrew would probably have a diffi- 
cult time navigating the TDOT, and I would not in general recommend it for 
such readers, though if they persevere they might find some real gems in se- 
lected articles. Since the TDOT is a reference work, an index of biblical pas- 
sages cited will be a must for a future volume. In the meantime, pastors who 
have had minimum exposure to Hebrew (and to critical methdologies) in semi- 
nary will have to sort through much technical data before finding something 
useful. It would be better to bring questions to a particular article than to read 
that article as a whole. Helpful section headings simplify that process. The spe- 
cialist in the OT or in some other branch of biblical studies will probably want 
to make the TDOT a constant companion. No other work of its kind exists. 

Volume 6 is relatively free of typographical errors; a few errors of content 
or problematic statements are listed here: 

1) P. 4 — R. G. North seems perplexed that Lev 25:20-22 speaks of the sixth, 
seventh, and eighth years rather than the forty-eighth, forty-ninth, and 
fiftieth years, as implied by v. 11. This need not be treated as a contradic- 
tion; the main topic of the chapter is the Sabbath Year, of which the Year 
of Jubilee is probably a special case. 

2) P. 91 — Surely the "Elamite seacoast" is a mistake for the "Edomite sea- 

3) P. 130 — Note 16 refers to Wolff, but it seems to me Wolff is saying the 
opposite: the chastisement in Hos 7:12; 10:10 is "intended to instruct and 
restore the nation." 

4) P. 147 — H. D. Preuss says Job insists "that even praying to" 'H$ is "pro- 
fitless" (Job 21:15; cf. 22:2f.). However, it is the wicked who conclude 
prayer is without profit, not Job (see 21:14, 16). 


5) Pp. 188, 399— H. -J. Zobel assumes that Hos 12:4 (3) takes a negative 
view of Jacob. This seems unlikely. More probably a contrast is intended: 
the refusal of Ephraim/Israel/Jacob in Hosea's day to repent versus the pa- 
triarch's change from a deceiver to one who sought God's blessing. 

6) P. 283— S. Wagner translates "IjT 'V? (Prov 20:15) by "a valuable tool." 
However, the contrast between the (relative) abundance of gold and rubies 
points rather to something like "the priceless ornament" (JB). 

7) P. 338 — Wagner will not allow any connection, "even if only through a 
misunderstanding," of nj?lxV rnifcil (Joel 2:23) with the concept "teacher 
of righteousness." No emendation is required if a play on words with a 
term meaning "early rain" be granted, and if rniQil be taken imperson- 
ally, "that which teaches." The rain the Lord sends on the earth is then a 
sign to point people to the restoration of a right covenant relationship (see 
Patterson, EBC 6; Finley, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Wycliffe Exegetical 

Thomas J. Finley 
Talbot School of Theology 

Interpreting the Minor Prophets, by Robert B. Chisholm, Jr. Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1990. Pp. 308 + index. $14.95 paper. 

Collaborative research involving biblicists and literary critics has reached 
a crucial time as each group assesses the scholarship within its own discipline 
and in relation to the other. While biblical scholars consider further revision of 
traditional exegesis according to current literary theory, literati continue to 
struggle with issues such as the idea of an extrabiblical literary canon, textual 
meaning, and the referentiality of language. In addition, some of the latter 
group (including this reviewer) are seeking help from the nature and implica- 
tions of the divinely inspired, inerrant Bible. Before the inquiry in both litera- 
ture and biblical studies goes much further, the two disciplines need to 
collaborate on a solidly text-based hermeneutic that synthesizes history, the- 
ology, and literature in a reasonably systematic way. 

This enterprise would benefit considerably from Chisholm's Interpreting 
the Minor Prophets. It explicates the Twelve according to historical back- 
ground, literary features, and theological doctrine and therefore deserves as 
much notice for its methodology as for its content. From that perspective Inter- 
preting is a particularly useful guide to OT studies: it models a well-conceived 
hermeneutic, showing in turn numerous possibilities for wide-ranging literary 
analysis of the primary texts. The book therefore can help to shape the interdis- 
ciplinary dialogue about the process of interpretation and the nature of textual 

Evidence of this potential appears early in the book and points to other 
strengths in Chisholm's overall plan. In the introduction the author acknowl- 
edges the prophets' conscious artistry by describing such literary features as 


chiasmus, inclusio, paneling, and wordplay. Concluding his sketch of the 
prophets' tendency to use the same words for double effect, Chisholm rejects 
the shallow aestheticism that sometimes is used to attack the integrity of the 
biblical text: "One can see from these examples that observing wordplays is 
more than an exercise in aesthetic appreciation of the text. Through wordplay 
the prophets often drew correspondences and contrasts that were an important 
emphasis of their messages" (p. 17). Those points of references, moreover, 
were to actual, not imaginary, events, people, and conditions in rebellious 
Israel and Judah. History undergirds Chisholm's treatment of literary topics, 
leading to an implicit rejection of the deconstructionist view that language is 
wholly self-referential, that the only world that exists is the "world" of lan- 
guage and of writing. The principle of correspondence is indeed crucial, and 
Chisholm's initial remarks, though brief, are especially important to the con- 
text of criticism in which he works. 

The larger purpose and organization of the book have additional value, 
despite a practical difficulty. He intends that the book "give its reader greater 
appreciation for and insight into a major portion of this marvelous body of 
prophetic literature ..." (p. 7). Written for English readers such as advanced 
undergraduates or beginning seminary students, Chisholm's prose style is ex- 
tremely compact, similar to that found in well-executed Bible and theological 
dictionaries; his commentaries, therefore, require a carefully-paced reading. 
Following a brief introduction, Chapters 1-12 follow in rapid succession, each 
displaying a clear three-part structure: an introduction, dealing with sitz, out- 
line of the book, and historical peculiarities; an explication; and a theological 
comment, noting specific insights gleaned from the text. This fairly rigid ap- 
proach to the Twelve, treating them in the order of the English canon, should 
help readers keep a clear sense of things. At times, though, the compact style is 
almost elliptical. 

Moreover, this rigid authorial stance never loosens, even for a few para- 
graphs. From the overview of OT prophetic literature to the closing analysis of 
God's justice as expressed in Malachi, details march in tight formation. Chis- 
holm's final words, displaying his anticipation of NT teaching about a future 
judgment (the message of the prophets), provide a representative sample of his 
writing style: 

The Lord would send the prophet Elijah prior to this Day of Judgment ([Malachi] 
3:1; 4:5). His task would be to "prepare the way" for the Lord (3:1) by proclaim- 
ing the necessity of repentance as the only way to escape the impending judgment 
(4:6). According to the New Testament, John the Baptist, who came as a second 
Elijah (Matt. 11:14; 17:12-13; Luke 1:17), eventually emerged as the Lord's mes- 
senger prophesied here (Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:76; 7:27). (p. 292) 

The numerous parenthetical references, despite their inelegance aesthetically and 
disruptiveness in the reading process, show the author's unflinching commitment 
to the authority of the biblical text — a welcomed position to conservative schol- 
ars and one that makes the encyclopedic tone of the book easier to manage. 

Other aspects of the author's methodology deserve more unmixed com- 
mendation. His sensitivity to a biblical word or phrase as it appears in various 


English translations seems timely and controlled. Particularly at textual cruxes 
Chisholm refers to NIV, NASB, and MT renderings, strategically locating ex- 
planations on the page: the more technical discussions are placed in footnotes 
(e.g., Nahum 1:8 [p. 171] and 1:15 [p. 167]) and the less complicated ones ap- 
pear in-text. Examples of this second category, the one perhaps more interest- 
ing to English readers, are as follows. Nahum 2:10a, according to Chisholm, is 
"highlighted in Hebrew by the similarity in sound between the words used 
(buqa um e buqa um e bullaqa)," this statement "emphasizing the totality of Nin- 
eveh's destruction" (p. 175). Another instance shows the prophet's artistic and 
didactic use of language: 

Nahum emphasizes the reversal in Nineveh's fortunes through three subtle word- 
plays, which are apparent only in the Hebrew text. While Nineveh contained a 
seemingly "endless" Ten qeseh) supply of gold and silver (2:9), she would soon 
be covered with bodies "without number" ( D en qeseh again; 3:3). "Piles" (kob ed) 
of corpses (3:3) would replace her abundant "wealth" (kab od, 2:9). Because of 
her "wanton lust," literally "many [rob] harlotries" (3:4; cf. NASB), Nineveh 
would be filled with "many [rob] casualties" (3:3). (pp. 176-77) 

Here and elsewhere Chisholm's atomistic techniques bring forth a multitude of 
textual details, many items beyond the competence of this reviewer to judge. 
The book of Jonah, however, is an exception; therefore, an analysis of Chis- 
holm's discussion of this book is offered as fairly representative of the other 
eleven. His expositions do equip the reader to recognize particulars that effect 
the interpretation of the book, thus achieving his primary intention. He could, 
however, use a stronger sense of the textual wholeness afforded by literary 
scholarship, despite its radical philosophical bent due to the aftermath of Post- 

While Jonah is shown to be rich in irony and word play, the overall art- 
istry of the book is somewhat unclear. Beginning with genre criticism, includ- 
ing a handy summary and refutation of arguments against the historicity of the 
text, Chisholm classifies the book as biographical narrative similar to accounts 
of the prophets in Kings. For some reason, though, satire is never mentioned, 
although the book has long been classified as such (e.g., Edwin Good, Millar 
Burrows, Leland Ryken, and James Ackerman). Jonah may be more than a sat- 
ire anyway, but the author at least should mention that genre as part of the lit- 
erary background. His silence may result from some critics' assumption that if 
the book is a satire, its plot is fictional, the latter opinion rejected by both Chis- 
holm and this reviewer. Jonah is historical. 

Another issue, Jonah as a heroic or antiheroic character, needs more dis- 
cussion as well, though in all fairness the many complexities of this issue need 
additional clarification in focused, technical research. Chisholm offers no judg- 
ment about whether the protagonist is a hero or antihero (p. 120), this ambigu- 
ity perhaps resulting from the scanty attention paid earlier to genre. If the book 
is a satire, written within a historically accurate sequence of events (cf. 
Ryken), the protagonist must then be antiheroic, the primary target of the au- 
thor's satiric intent; and who can read the book without realizing that Jonah's 
foolish acts (e.g., running from God, becoming angry because the Ninevites re- 
pent) make him the butt of satire? Much evidence supporting this view lies in 


the text. But if the book is more than a satire, Jonah may be heroic or antihe- 
roic, depending upon how the plot serves to present, analyze, and assess his 
character. Interpreting this tiny book is no small task. 

A few other comments on the hero-antihero question may help to show 
both the insights and limitations of Chisholm's treatment. Jonah's divine com- 
mission, for example, makes him appear heroic. God instructs him to prophesy 
to the brutal Ninevites and to do it in their city, not within the safe borders of 
his homeland, where many other prophets were told to preach. Elsewhere 
Jonah appears heroic too, i.e., when he asks to be thrown overboard (1:12), 
though his request may be only an acknowledgment of deserved punishment 
rather than a desire to preserve the sailors' lives; and when he obediently deliv- 
ers God's message to Nineveh (3:3), though again, as Chisholm remarks, the 
prophet simply may be reacting to "the most drastic divine measures" (p. 127). 
In any case, issues involving genre and Jonah's character await further expla- 
nation from research, though Chisholm points out many foundational details 
that help the reader appreciate specific literary devices in the text. 

Some readers will question the analysis of structure in Jonah, particularly 
because a larger unity is at work in the book. Chisholm's assumption that 
Jonah has two principal sections (ch. 1-2, 3-4), offered without explanation, 
does lead to a fruitful way to study the plot. On the other hand, it severs an 
otherwise unbroken pattern of divine action-human reaction-divine reaction 
that gives the book an important rhetorical wholeness, whatever the particular 
chapter divisions. Another approach to the issue of structure is to treat the 
book as simply four chapters, with a note that the first two are divided at 
different places in the Hebrew and English texts. This strategy avoids much 
potentially useless theorizing about rationales for dividing the book at certain 
moments in the plot. Besides, whatever the proper divisions, the primary em- 
phasis of the plot is God's sovereignty over human events, despite foolish de- 
cisions made by religious leaders, a truth clearly stated in Chisholm's excellent 
theological analysis (p. 129). 

Despite these particular criticisms, the commentary is filled with vital in- 
formation. Explanations about the thanksgiving psalms as background texts for 
Jonah 2:1-10 add important perspective to the reading of that chapter. More- 
over, some statements do show a sensitivity to larger issues in the Jonah narra- 
tive. Here is one of the best: "With a final note of sarcasm the Lord reminded 
Jonah [4:11] that the city also contained 'many cattle.' ... If Jonah could not 
feel compassion for human beings, perhaps this plant-lover might acknowledge 
that the city should be spared for the sake of the animals, partners with plants 
in the natural realm" (p. 129). God's use of nature is an important secondary 
theme in Jonah and Chisholm's remark provides just the right touch to encour- 
age readers to look elsewhere for expressions of this theme. 

All in all, the commentary on Jonah pinpoints numerous details that must 
be addressed in any penetrating study of the book. Issues involving history, lit- 
erature, and theology are neatly categorized, leaving synthesis up to the reader. 
While this demanding task of integrating the three disciplines needs further 
theoretical underpinning, Interpreting the Minor Prophets provides much of 
the schemata so useful to non-specialists. Some of that group can apply Inter- 
preting in their ongoing analyses of the nature, function, and criticism of 


hermeneutics, especially in joint research involving literary criticism and bibli- 
cal studies. Other readers seeking a deeper understanding of the Minor Proph- 
ets will find much to stimulate, challenge, and inspire their study of the 
numerous authorial, textual, and theological issues in this portion of the Old 

Branson L. Woodard 
Liberty University 

Proverbs and Ecclesiastes: Who Knows What is Good? by Kathleen A. 
Farmer. International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerd- 
mans Publishing Co., 1991. Pp. 220. $15.95. Paper. 

Farmer approaches Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as books having a unity of 
attitude which editors joined together with an introduction (Prov 1:2-7) and a 
conclusion (Eccl 12:11-14). Each book is given a brief introduction since crit- 
ical issues are not the intended emphasis and, in keeping with the series goals, 
she works conceptually within the framework of the entire Canon, although 
there is little developed discussion of the NT. 

the first section of Farmer's book treats Proverbs 1-9 as analogous in form 
to Egyptian "Instructions" with twelve "instructions" being identified through 
variations of form and content. This analysis places great stress upon the mark- 
ers "my son/sons" and excludes much of chapter 8 (the personification of wis- 
dom) and chapter 9 from its enumeration. 

Two collections of Solomonic proverbs (10-22:16 and 25-29) are joined 
in section two of the book in an interesting discussion by themes and topics. 
As Farmer shows, this really is the most rewarding way to study the book of 
Proverbs, topical arrangement provides a grouping of significant proverbs 
salted with references to Hebrew words and parallel ancient Near Eastern 
texts. Much less emphasis, however, is found upon integration of Old Testa- 
ment ideas or development within the Canon. Some topics, i.e., life after death 
(Farmer leaves the door open for a possible view of immortality) are treated 
broadly while "Business dealings," so important for current ethical awareness, 
is altogether too brief with its focus upon indebtedness. 

Section three comments upon the sayings of the sages with expectant em- 
phasis upon the first group of "30 sayings." While recognizing the Hebrew text 
does not mark divisions Farmer accepts the analogy to Amenemope but for 
enumeration must combine 23:9 and 23:12 for the 9th saying while 23:10-11 
is designated as the 10th saying. Sayings are analyzed in groups with emphasis 
given to selected topics. "Poor and Poverty," for example, receives better theo- 
logical development here than in the longer treatment of the previous section. 

The words of Agur and Lemuel, including the concluding acrostic on the 
wise woman, are the subject of the final section on Proverbs. Throughout the 
book excellent visibility is provided on the contrast of the Adulteress (foolish- 
ness) with Wisdom (wise woman) ending with this section. Farmer, however, 
struggles with the prohibitions against marrying foreign women and its appli- 
cation for today. 


An appendix on "Theology and Piety in Proverbs" concludes the com- 
mentary on Proverbs which is quite telling as less development of the theology 
of Proverbs is included than expected. Throughout the book emphasis is placed 
upon the editors/collectors and our ability to determine their thinking as they 
positioned proverbs together in the book. Insightful comments are made about 
the juxtapositioning of dissimilar proverbs but much is made of such collecting 
without discussion of acceptable limits or the range of interrelationships. 

A beginning study of hebel (Farmer follows R. B. Y. Scott's Anchor Bible 
translation "breath") sets the stage for the analysis of Ecclesiastes. Aside from 
the introduction and conclusion, Ecclesiastes is to be understood as primarily 
by one author (Qoheleth not Solomon) with editorial additions seen behind 
contradictory statements and changes in person. Qoheleth's style is said to be 
"journaling" where a "middle-class" audience is allowed to look at the con- 
templations of the author but no analysis of such a genre is given. Although 
the commentary proceeds chapter by chapter Farmer sees two main parts to the 
book; chapters 1-6 (what is good for humans) and chapters 7-12 (what can be 
known by them) concluded by an editor(s)' comments upon Qoheleth's work 

The theme of the book for Farmer is Qoheleth's search for which is per- 
manent rather than what is of value. Taking her cue from an understanding of 
hebel as lack of permanence rather than lack of worth Farmer develops this 
theme in relating Qoheleth's search for what people can know and the limits of 
human knowledge including the future. Farmer, therefore, sees the essence of 
the fear of God not as a signal of hope in the wanderings of human existence 
but as recognition "that God's favor cannot be controlled by anything we hu- 
mans can do," 177. 

The book is enjoyable to read. Throughout the commentary Farmer refers 
mostly to the RSV and secondarily the TEV although frequent reference to 
many English versions are made. In this reviewer's opinion the topical treat- 
ments of Proverbs and the comments about their interrelatedness are the most 
insightful part of the book. Disappointing are the limited theological develop- 
ment of relevant topics (i.e., ethics, economics, family) and integration with 
OT/NT thought by Farmer has much to offer any reader of her work. Finally, 
one of the goals of this series to include a perspective from outside the 
" 'Christian' West" is not achieved. 

Robert D. Spender 
The King's College, Briarcliff Manor, NY 

Exploring the Book of Daniel, by John Phillips and Jerry Vines. Neptune, New 
Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1990. Pp. 290. n.p. Cloth. 

The Loizeaux "Exploring" series includes ten volumes by John Phillips 
and two by Jerry Vines; this most recent addition to the series represents an at- 
tempt by Phillips and Vines to collaborate in the production of an exposition of 
Daniel. Daniel 1-6 is the object of Vines' efforts ["Daniel and his Personal 
Friends"]; the discussion of chapters 7-12 ["Daniel and his People's Future"] 
is the work of Phillips. 


Although neither writer explicitly identifies the rationale for such a divi- 
sion of the book, presumably it has been followed because 1-6 is perceived as 
"historical event" while 7-12 is understood as characterized by "prophetic vi- 
sion." Apparently, the former is more suited to the "preaching skills" of Vines, 
while the extensive study of prophecy by Phillips led to his addressing the lat- 
ter [see Preface]. That they perceive their tasks as different is demonstrated by 
the fact that the first half of the book devotes almost 15 pages to a discussion 
of Daniel 2; at the same time Appendix 23 is a 15 page "prophetic exposition 
of Daniel 2," prepared by Phillips. 

It is this initial "division of labor," however, which signals one of the ma- 
jor weaknesses of the work. There is no effort made to address the critical is- 
sue of the book's structure and the influence that has in determining the 
theological argument of the book. While both authors indicate their knowledge 
that the text of 2:4-7:28 is Aramaic, their division of the book between chap- 
ters six and seven suggests that they see no particular need to understand chap- 
ter seven as integrally related to the preceding material. Furthermore, there is 
no attempt to explain the obvious chronological disjunction of various compo- 
nents of the book. The straightforward dating of certain events and visions 
makes it obvious that it was not Daniel's intention to present them in a sequen- 
tial manner at every point; thus, the reader is invited to probe what must have 
been a theological/thematic intent for his arrangement. 

The hermeneutical method employed in the first half of the book unfortu- 
nately cannot be characterized either as exegetical or expositional. The appar- 
ent concern is, rather, to "sermonize," illustrate and apply. The resulting 
material exemplifies the thin gruel produced by failure to come to grips with 
the theological dynamics of the narrative. 

Particularly disappointing is the rather cavalier approach to portions of the 
theological narrative in chapters 1-6. The following comments concerning 
Daniel 6 illustrate the point: 

"There was Daniel, down there in the lions' den. As he hit bottom, a lion growled. 
The angel said, 'Don't you touch that man.' Another one growled. 'Shhh, let's 
make this a quiet night. This man needs a good night's rest. He's in his nineties!' 
Perhaps Daniel simply went over to a lion, said, 'Hello, Leo,' then lay down be- 
side him and put his head on the now purring lion's gorgeous mane, while the li- 
on's tail swished away the gnats and mosquitoes." [89] 

Although the second half of the book reflects a more concentrated effort to 
address the issues of the text, for which Phillips is to be commended, occasion- 
ally he engages in unwarranted speculation regarding matters that the text 
simply does not address. Two examples are offered. When discussing the inter- 
pretation of the Daniel 7 vision, Phillips finds it appropriate to speculate re- 
garding the relationship of the United States, Canada and the Soviet Union to 
the fourth beast and the additional horn which arises after the ten. Again, in the 
ninth chapter Daniel makes specific reference to his contact with the Jeremiah 
prophecy concerning the length of the captivity. Phillips devotes more space to 
a discussion of Daniel's relationship to Isaianic prophecies than to the one 
which the text specifies. 

Inconsistency in the treatment of the text is evident at some points. In his 
discussion of 9:24 the writer asserts that, "The reference here is to Daniel's 


people, the Jews and to the 'holy city,' Jerusalem. This prophecy has nothing to 
do with the church. ..." [145] Yet two pages later he comments: "But God 
intends to do more than cancel sin. He will complete our salvation 
[9:24]. . . . This has already been effected at the cross, and is being made good 
in the lives of believers today. The emphasis here, however, is on the nation of 
Israel." [147-48] At the outset of Phillips' treatment of Daniel 8, Daniel is pre- 
sumed to have been in retirement [115], while at the end of his discussion of 
that chapter Daniel is presented as holding some governmental position, the 
exact nature of which is unknown [134]. 

Phillips' understanding of the prophetic visions should be characterized as 
"mainline conservative." That his discussion offers nothing that is either fresh 
or particularly insightful raises a question in this reviewer's mind about the 
need for such a volume. It neither models expository proclamation nor contrib- 
utes to an advancement of an evangelical understanding of Daniel. 

John I. Lawlor 
Baptist Bible College 

/ Kings: Nations Under God, by Gene Rice. International Theological Commen- 
tary Series. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990. Pp. 198. 
$10.95. Paper. 

This 1990 addition to the International Theological Commentary is the 
product of a series of team-taught exegetical preaching classes at the author's 
institution, where he is professor of Old Testament Literature and Language 
[xiv]. The author has succeeded in creating a non-technical work that will pro- 
vide beneficial, although general, reading for the targeted audience. 

Rice develops his treatment of the 1 Kings narrative under five headings: 
[1] The reign of Solomon, 1:1-11:43; [2] The establishment of the northern 
kingdom, 12:1-16:28; [3] From the death of Solomon to the beginning of the 
reign of Ahab, 14:21-16:28; [4] The reign of Ahab and the prophetic opposi- 
tion, 16:29-22:40; [5] After the death of Ahab, 22:41-2 Kgs 8:29. At the end 
of his treatment of the various sub-units under each heading, the author pauses 
for "Theological Reflection." Without discussing the theory of Hebrew narra- 
tive or historiographic technique, the writer's treatment subtly reflects an 
awareness of and sensitivity to the working of such matters, which are crucial 
to an appropriate reading of these kinds of biblical texts. 

Obviously, in a work of this size and purpose, it is not possible to treat all 
the material evenly; Rice does not, however, fall prey to the temptation to con- 
centrate on the more popular and well-known narratives of the book. Thus, 
while there are unavoidably some "thin spots" in the commentary, the author 
has generally achieved a commendable distribution of attention. The fact that 
Rice is not necessarily married to the chapters as always the most appropriate 
dividers of the material — a point that the biblical text itself often makes — 
creates a somewhat awkward, perhaps misleading, situation in part five of the 
commentary. The writer suggests that a major division begins with 22:41 — 
thirteen verses before the conclusion of 1 Kings — and continues through 2 Kgs 
8:29. Presumably the writing assignment was to prepare a commentary on 


1 Kings; this results in only one page of discussion on part five. This should 
not be taken as a criticism of the writer, but rather as a suggestion that a com- 
mentary on 1-2 Kings, prepared by the same writer, would perhaps be more 

Failure to address in a substantive way the theological issues related to the 
function of Hebrew prophetism in 1 Kings 13-14 and 17-19, is one defect of 
the work. In neither textual setting is the Kings narrator merely "relating inter- 
esting events" which occurred in the history of the northern kingdom. It seems 
rather, that the inclusion of the narratives dealing with the man of God from 
Judah, Ahijah's visit from Jeroboam's wife and the Elijah material is an invita- 
tion to the reader to contemplate the theological workings and implications of 
such instructional passages as Deut 13:1-5 and 18:9-22 [esp. 20-22]. While 
Rice does include a passing reference to Moses' encounter with YHWH on Si- 
nai [Exod 33:17-23] in his discussion of 1 Kings 19, he fails to pursue the 
theological ramifications of Elijah's "like Moses" experience at the same geo- 
graphical location and in somewhat similar circumstances. 

The "Theological Reflections" in the book are cryptic. These discussions 
are intended to wrestle with the issue of the text's message for the church; but 
it is here that Rice flounders. The pericope on the two harlots who claim the 
same child [3:16-28] is "a study of character and motherhood by comparison 
and contrast" [38]. The account of Solomon's treaty with Hiram of Tyre [5:1- 
12] "is a reminder of the delicate relationship of Israel [and the Church] to the 
world. . . . Israel's [and the Church's] mission is not to condemn or to escape 
from the world but to transform it" [46]. The narrative of the Queen of Sheba's 
visit to Jerusalem "mirrors one of the finest portraits of a woman in the OT." 
Furthermore, "she serves as a type of those who are attracted to God's cove- 
nant people. Her effort and enthusiasm shame those who have One greater than 
Solomon . . . but all too often do not regard getting to know him as a journey 
worth taking" [85]. Elijah's contest with Ba'al [18:1-46] reminds the industri- 
alized nations that "commercial success [the equivalent of rain] while resorting 
to dishonest practices 'in order to survive'" constitutes a modern version of 
Ba'alism [156]. The theophany of 19:11-14 reminds us that "Whenever we lo- 
cate God 'in' . . . our political or economic system, nation, class, race, or de- 
nomination, we also conceive God in Baal's image" [162]. 

At this point one is forced to think back to the process which gave rise to 
Rice's work. The reviewer respects any concentrated effort at wrestling with 
such difficult matters as the message, the original theological intent and the 
church's use of books like 1 Kings; this is a task which challenges the most re- 
fined hermeneutical skills of the ablest of exegetes. The examples catalogued 
above, however, suggest a lack of any clear direction for theological reflection. 
At times the reader gets the impression that the writer was "grasping" for ideas 
about which he could moralize. This distracting fluidity may finally be traced to 
an extremely broad understanding of the purpose of 1 Kings: "First Kings is the 
story of Israel wrestling with the myriad problems of political existence from 
the last days of David ... to the beginning of the reign of Ahaziah ..." [1]. 

Perhaps a more explicit understanding of the narrator's theological pur- 
pose would provide the basis for a more precise discernment of an appropriate 
use of 1 Kings by the church. Ultimately, the problem may be one of trying to 


reduce the theological issues of a book like 1 Kings [cf. both its content and 
size] to such a limited amount of space, while at the same time addressing the 
implications of those theological matters for the church. 

John I. Lawlor 
Baptist Bible Seminary 

A New Heart: A Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel, by Bruce Vawter and 
Leslie J. Hoppe. In International Theological Commentary series, edited by 
Fredrick Carlson Holmgren and George A. F. Knight. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. 
Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991. Pp. 218. $15.95. Paper. 

A recent addition to Eerdmans' International Theological Commentary 
series, this commentary was begun by Bruce Vawter (formerly chairman of the 
Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University) and completed after his 
death by Leslie Hoppe (associate professor of Old Testament and Chairperson 
of the Biblical Literature and Languages Department at Catholic Theological 
Union, Chicago). Vawter had finished the first draft of only the introduction 
and chapters 1-24 of the commentary at the time of his death. Nevertheless, 
the resultant work largely shows a good compatibility of writing styles and 
emphases so that the book lacks the disjointedness that sometimes accompa- 
nies such cases of co-authorship. 

This commentary assumes that Ezekiel was a real Judean prophet who 
was taken into exile together with his king Jehoiachin in 597 B.C. (p. 2). There- 
fore, a genuine Ezekiel stands behind the work that bears his name. However, 
"The book itself is a product of the faith community that treasured the memory 
and message of the prophet" (p. 3). 

While the prophet thus must have preached many of the oracles contained 
in the book, the present text of Ezekiel is the result of a complicated compila- 
tional and editorial process that everywhere betrays signs of editorial activity. 
Thus, the date of Ezekiel's inaugural vision (593 b.c.) has been supplied by a 
"glossator" (p. 24). For Vawter and Hoppe the whole unusual dating sequence 
supplied in Ezekiel is doubtless due to compilers who shaped the corpus of 
Ezekiel into its present shape in accordance with the dating scheme. 

Commenting on chapters 3-24, the writers repeatedly point out instances 
of the work of the redactors. The section in 3:22-27 reflects an editorial inser- 
tion drawn from its original setting in 24:25. The pericope in 4:4-8 is "a pas- 
tiche make up of recollections of Ezekiel's prophecy rather than an actual 
record of a prophetic act observed" (pp. 41-42). The instructions concerning a 
few strands of Ezekiel's shorn hair may be "the afterthought of a redactor" 
(p. 46). The vision of the glory of the Lord in chapter one and in 10:9-17, 
20:22 shows bi-directional redactional assimilation (p. 72). The placement of 
11:1-13, "an alternate account of what the prophet recalled in 8:16-18," 
(p. 73) is due to a redactionist. Although 11:14-21 contains authentic words of 
Ezekiel, the passage as such "is a redactional composition, in part anticipating 
the prophet's later message, which a similar prophecy in Jeremiah has influ- 
enced (Jer 32:36-40)" (p. 75). In chapter fourteen, verses 1-5 serve as a 


"redactional introduction" to the following verses (p. 85). The unit in 14:12— 
20 has been drawn from the prophet's collected words and fitted here due to 
"superficial verbal connections with the surrounding context" (p. 86). Both 
16:59-63 and 17:22-24 are redactional supplements (pp. 97, 98). In the case 
of 20:32-44, "Here Ezekiel's later disciples tempered Yahweh's repudiation of 
Israel as set forth in the previous verses with thoughts drawn from the latter 
period of the prophet's career" (p. 103). The promise of salvation in 20:4-42 is 
a redactor's work, 20:45-21:7 contains a series of oracles gathered together by 
a redactor, 21:18-23 recalls a symbolic act performed before 589 B.C. but 
placed in its present context by a redactor (p. 106), and 21:24-27; 21:28-32; 
22:17-22; 24:15-27 may all have been added to their present context by a re- 
dactor (so also 33:30-33; 38:5; 38:14-23; 39:6-16). Rounding out this section 
of Ezekiel, the authors hold that chapter twenty-three is filled with "consider- 
able repetition," probably the work of later redactors who "have felt free to 
amplify and enlarge upon his original words" (p. 114). The prophecy of Jeru- 
salem's siege (24:1-14) can likewise be attributed to redactors who "benefited 
from the realization of later history of prophesied events that were not very de- 
termined in their original utterance" (p. 114). 

As for the rest of the book, the addition of Edom to the oracle is the work 
of an "overzealous editor" (p. 122) and 35:1-36:15 contains individual sayings 
brought together by the editorial judgment of "later traditionalists" (pp. 159— 
61), as do 37: 12b— 13 (p. 168) and 38:10-13. The latter perhaps may even not 
be Ezekiel's own work but a redactional expansion suited for the traditionalist's 
own "theological ends" (p. 177). The unit 39:6-16 is an expansive intrusion 
into the original oracle against Gog between 39:1-9 and its conclusion found 
in 39:17-20. Chapters 40-48 contain material that is replete "with imagery 
that is primarily mythic" (p. 185), "the result of literary additions to what was 
an original core of material that came from the prophet himself" (p. 186). 
Granted such wholesale editorial activity, the present text of Ezekiel is "a 
document that has undergone very extensive redaction," largely at the hands of 
"later enthusiasts" who have "subjected the book of Ezekiel to more amplifica- 
tions, more than any other of the prophetic works. They have so augmented 
and annotated the prophet's words that it is often impossible to separate what is 
'authentic' from what is 'accretional' in the book" (p. 10). 

It is obvious that the above considerations are probably sufficient to make 
evangelical readers wary of the authors' treatment of Ezekiel. Several other 
ideas will contribute to that uneasiness. Thus, in addition to holding to the ex- 
istence of a Second Isaiah (p. 15), the authors hold to a Third Isaiah (p. 88), 
and a late date for Jonah (p. 32). They also declare that the description of the 
Solomonic Temple in 1 Kings 6:2-7:51 is "ultimately the work of persons who 
had never seen it" (p. 64), find demythologized Babylonian material in the "la- 
ment" against Egypt (32:1-16; p. 143), and maintain that the Daniel mentioned 
in Ezek 14:14, 20 is synonymous with the Danel of earlier Canaanite legend 
(p. 87). Canaanite mythic motifs and imagery are said to be woven not only 
into the traditional case of the lament against Tyre (28:1 1-19; p. 132), but also 
into the Gog and Magog oracles (p. 172) and the concluding visions concern- 
ing the Kingdom of God (see, e.g., 47:1-12; p. 207), which the authors hold to 
be future but non-eschatological in orientation (pp. 174-75). 


Ezekiel himself comes in for criticism here and there. For example, the 
prophet's trembling and shuddering as he eats and drinks (12:18) is said to in- 
dicate "some natural infirmity" (p. 80). Ezekiel's choice of metaphors describ- 
ing the exile in 36:17 is termed "unfortunate" and that in 36:27 "too strong" 
(p. 162). Ezekiel's prophecy with regard to Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Egypt 
is termed an attempt "to restore the prophet's credibility after the prophecies 
that he uttered against Tyre (see Ezek 26:1-28:19) did not come true" (p. 138). 
Other supposed examples of failed biblical prophecy are also cited (p. 139). All 
of these can certainly be explained otherwise. These, together with the authors' 
characterizing of Ezekiel as a prophet who at times exercises a good deal of 
imagination, may well cast light on their understanding of biblical inspiration. 

One can always disagree with a few technical details. Thus, the Akkadian 
behind the River Chebar (1:3) is ndr(u) kabari rather than nar kabaru. The ra- 
qia c of 1:22 is better translated "expansive" (see NIV) and certainly does not 
indicate that the Hebrews joined other peoples in antiquity who "thought of the 
sky as an inverted bowl of burnished and beaten metal. It served to hold in 
check the waters above the earth and served as a surface for the sun and moon 
and stars" (p. 29). The proposed evidence concerning Yahweh's personal con- 
sort named Asherah (pp. 52-53) is not fully established. Moreover, even if 
confirmed, as the authors themselves point out, such worship was "aberrant." 
Likewise, one may hesitate to follow the authors' readiness to emend the MT 
in places (e.g., at 6:14; note that the authors' charge of inaccuracy in the MT of 
27:15, 16 is itself in error — p. 129). It needs to be pointed out as well that the 
"mark" of 9:4 (Heb D) was written not only in the old Hebrew script as an "X" 
(p. 70), but as t. 

This reviewer likewise finds some of the authors' interpretative conclu- 
sions to be less than satisfying. Thus, they insist that the book of Ezekiel lacks 
any "faithful remnant" theme (pp. 54, 71). They also maintain that while God's 
forgiveness of Israel was important, without his sovereign initiative in remem- 
bering the people so that future disobedience would be impossible, "a genuine 
conversion on Israel's part is impossible" (p. 164). Thus, it will be neither a 
"faithful remnant" nor a repentant Israel that will ultimately be the basis of 
God's blessing; rather, Israel's final redemption will be solely the product of 
God's mercy. "Even if their sin makes them unworthy of God's grace, God will 
give that grace nonetheless" (p. 212). It is of interest to note (perhaps reflect- 
ing some difference in authorial position), however, that elsewhere it is said 
that as a sort of first step toward being part of that future group brought into 
existence through God's power, those Israelites who heed Ezekiel's warning 
"and act on his exhortations will be ready to live in the future that God's power 
is bringing into existence. Those who fail to heed the prophet must bear the 
burden of their intransigence" (p. 15). 

While it is true that the divine initiative is an important key to Ezekiel's 
theology, it seems difficult to emphasize this fact to the exclusion of the theme 
of a repentant and faithful remnant. This is especially the case since it is so 
common in other Old Testament prophecies. Moreover, Ezekiel clearly seems 
to imply the application of this theme in at least ten passages (6:8-10; 9:8; 
11:13; 14-21; 12:16; 14-22-23; 16:60-63; 17:22-24; 20:32-44; 22:17-22; 


Equally dissatisfying is the contention that "Ezekiel lacks messianic vi- 
sion for the Davidic house" (p. 108). It would appear illogical that in quoting 
Gen 49:10 (Ezek 21:27) Ezekiel would take a traditional messianic text and ap- 
ply it to Nebuchadnezzar, as the authors suggest. Moreover, the position taken 
here seems at variance with the stance assumed in 34:23-24: "Here Ezekiel 
envisions a David of the future who will be the shepherd of God's flock" 
(p. 156). To avoid a potential contradiction, the authors attempt to separate a 
future David figure from the Davidic dynasty itself. Surely this is difficult to 
do, however, since the two have been inextricably bound together previously 
in mainstream Hebrew orthodox prophecy (2 Sam 7: 1 lb— 29; 23:1-7; Isa 7:1- 
9:7; cf. Ps 89:1-37). Such also seems clearly Ezekiel's intent subsequently in 
37:15-28, where God's new covenant of peace is associated with the Abraha- 
mic and Davidic Covenants in one grand collection of prophetic themes (and 
where as well the remnant theme is clearly expressed). 

The above comments notwithstanding, Vawter and Hoppe are obviously 
thoroughly at home with the major themes and problems of Ezekiel's prophecy. 
To their credit, they often challenge their readers to be genuinely receptive to the 
gracious acts of a sovereign, holy, and merciful God, and by faith "experience 
God's presence touching their lives" (p. 213). Nevertheless, their overall conces- 
sions to a non-evangelical position at so many key points will probably keep this 
commentary from enjoying a ready reception in the evangelical community. 

Richard Patterson 
Liberty University 

The Lord is Savior: Faith in National Crisis, by S. H. Widyapranawa. Grand 
Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990. Pp. 266. $14.95. Paper. 

In this commentary on Isaiah 1-39, Widyapranawa examines Isaiah's de- 
piction of the dynamics of faith in a turbulent world and applies it to the 
preaching of God's justice and truth in the current age. As part of the Interna- 
tional Theological Commentary (ITC) series, the commentary "seeks to share 
theological interpretation which could serve as study material for pastors, 
preachers, theological students, and the Christian community in general" 
(p. xii). A second purpose of both the series and this commentary is to provide 
interpretation that transcends "the parochialism of Western civilization" (p. x). 

The commentary's form and layout contribute to its readability. The au- 
thor incorporates his outline for this section of Isaiah in his comments by di- 
viding the commentary into six major sections, chapter divisions, and the use 
of headings and subheadings. Widyapranawa helps the reader to keep in touch 
with Isaiah's flow of argument by providing an overview at the beginning of 
each major section, chapter and subsection. An abundance of cross-references 
to other biblical passages, both in Isaiah (chaps. 1-66) as well as the rest of the 
OT, connect Isaiah's theology with the entire OT corpus. 

Although Widyapranawa's primary intention is to examine Isaiah's broad 
theological message, he does provide some details concerning certain textual 
problems (pp. 102, 133, 160-61) and draws attention to several form critical 


(refrain — pp. 55-58, woe oracles — pp. 22ff., 167ff.) and rhetorical features 
(onomatopoeia — p. 63, word plays — pp. 13, 22, alliteration — p. 145, and hy- 
perbole — p. 142). He also makes several comparisons with ANE mythology 
and culture (pp. 51, 67, 159, 185-86). 

Although Isaiah's prophecy is primarily anchored in the second half of the 
eighth century B.C., Widyapranawa identifies several later additions or "edito- 
rial intrusions" (p. 60) by writers from various time periods throughout chapters 
1-39 (pp. 11, 12, 13, 14, 22, 55, 60, 61, 70, 77, 139ff., 167, 190, 215, 229). 

The author's interpretive decisions with regard to the following bench- 
mark passages and issues provide a glimpse of the volume's contents. The birth 
of "Immanuel" to the c almah (7:14) is primarily historical (p. 42). Wid- 
yapranawa avoids any attempt to identify the woman. The author suggests that 
both of the Messianic passages (9:1-7; 11:1-10) were given at the time of Is- 
rael's annual "re-enthronement" festival in Jerusalem (pp. 50-52, 66-67). In 
this scenario, they were probably addressed to Hezekiah as a prophetic symbol 
of a messianic king yet to come (cf. Pss 2, 21, 72, 110, 132). As with Psalm 
studies, the appropriateness of this suggestion of an annual enthronement festi- 
val is questionable. He also favors the two campaign view in his comments on 
chapters 36-37 (pp. 240-43). Finally, since the "Church is the Israel of the 
new covenant people of God in Christ" (p. 1 14), Isaiah's proclamation to Israel 
of the need to practice justice and compassion is incumbent upon the Church 
(p. 129). Although the author recognizes that God's Spirit is necessary for the 
ultimate establishment of a perfectly just society (p. 201), he asserts that the 
church must call the world to repentance with regard to a host of social issues 
(pp. 70, 86). 

While Widyapranawa does a commendable job of tracing Isaiah's theo- 
logical message, the adjustment of a few features would add to this volume's 
value. The two paragraphs of introduction (p. xiv) should be expanded for the 
reader not acquainted with the significant Isaianic issues. Secondly, in spite of 
the stated intention of this series to provide an internationally flavored inter- 
pretation, this reviewer only found eight instances of clear non-Western appli- 
cations of Isaiah's theology (pp. 49, 52, 56, 81, 89, 114, 141-42, 143). To be 
more useful to non-Western readers and to help Westerners be less parochial, 
more work in this area would be helpful. Thirdly, while references to other 
volumes from this series provide the relevant page numbers, all citations to the 
two sister volumes of the present commentary (Servant Theology [Isaiah 40- 
55], The New Israel [Isaiah 56-66]) lack this information (pp. 112, 162, 174, 
249). This is especially frustrating when the reader is directed to examine 
George Knight's treatment of "righteousness" in these two sister volumes 
(p. 24). Finally, in light of Isaiah's significant contribution to OT theology and 
in comparison to other ITC works, the bibliography of the present work is 
scanty. It cites only 15 other volumes, two of which are its sister volumes from 
the series. No journal articles and only one essay are listed. 

Since this volume does not attempt to be an exegetical commentary but 
seeks to delineate Isaiah's theology, it can be helpful to the basic Bible student 
as well as a pastor or teacher. 

Even though this reviewer does not agree with the author on several issues 
(in particular, his view of the composition of chapters 1-39), the commentary 


is synthetic enough to keep its reader familiar with Isaiah's argument, a com- 
mendable feature for any commentary. 

Michael A. Grisanti 
Central Baptist Theological Seminary 

The Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, by 
F. F. Bruce. Third Revised and Enlarged Edition. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerd- 
mans Publishing Co., 1990. Pp. 569. $39.95. Cloth. 

The first edition (1951) of this significant work came into this reviewer's 
hands when he was a young New Testament professor forty years ago. The 
careful and thorough scholarship, the clarity of writing, and the soundness of 
judgment evidenced by the author were impressive from the start, and have 
prompted an eager reading of the continuing stream of books that have flowed 
from Dr. Bruce's pen. The world of evangelical scholarship has lost a cham- 
pion at the death of F. F. Bruce in September, 1990, a few months after he 
wrote the preface to this third edition. 

Although F. F. Bruce may be more widely known for his commentary on 
Acts in the New International Commentary series, this volume on the Greek 
text preceded it, and has now been revised and enlarged. This reviewer was 
amazed to see how extensive the revisions and enlargements were. 

The current volume is 78 pages longer than the second edition (1952). The 
Contents table is expanded from 2 pages to 9 pages. The Introduction is en- 
larged from 64 pages to 96 pages. The Westcott-Hort Greek text used in the 
first edition has now been modified to follow closely the Nestle-Aland text 
(p. 77). The expanded sections are far too numerous to mention because the 
contents of the previous edition has clearly been completely scrutinized and 
updated by the author. Bruce indicates in his Preface that he has written on all 
of Paul's epistles except the Pastorals since his first edition, and this has 
greatly increased his perspective on Acts and enriched his commentary. 

Prominent among the expansions to be found in the new edition are his 
treatments of various historical figures and places, such as Damascus, Antioch, 
Derbe, Lystra, Felix, and the death of Stephen. The introduction to the voyage 
to Rome has been greatly enlarged. 

Although conclusions of Dr. Bruce reflect the same perspective as the ear- 
lier editions, his scholarship did not remain static, and he does not refrain from 
changing his mind upon occasion. He now thinks that the gathering of the 
Twelve at Pentecost was probably in the upper room, not the temple (p. 114). 
He concludes that the region of Shechem is most likely the place where Philip 
preached (p. 216), whereas in the previous edition he preferred Gitta. In the 
new edition, the quotation from the Muratorian Fragment regarding the Lukan 
authorship of Acts has been given in English translation, rather than being left 
in Latin as before (p. 1). This is helpful for us whose Latin is more rusty than 
we care to admit. 

Bruce is always thought-provoking. Whether or not one agrees with every 
interpretation, he cannot read this volume without being enriched by the 


wealth of information, abundance of research, and felicity of expression. Even 
if you already have editions one or two, get this one! 

Homer A. Kent 
Grace Theological Seminary 

Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles, by Simon J. Kistemaker. In New Testa- 
ment Commentary series. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990. Pp. 1010, 
$29.95, Cloth. 

The latest volume, of more than 1000 pages, in the New Testament Com- 
mentary series is a worthy addition to this excellent set which began many 
years ago with the writings of William Hendriksen. This volume on Acts is by 
Simon J. Kistemaker, professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological 
Seminary in Mississippi and a long-time officer of the Evangelical Theological 
Society. It is his fourth contribution to this popular series. 

This reviewer found Kistemaker's work to be carefully done, well- 
researched, and attractively presented. The exposition is verse by verse, with 
the author's own translation at the head of each section. Following the exposi- 
tion are sections entitled "Greek Words, Phrases, and Constructions," "Doctri- 
nal Considerations," and "Practical Considerations," along with a summary at 
the end of each chapter. 

The eschatological stance of this work is amillennial, but this does not se- 
riously detract from the value of the commentary for those whose eschatology 
may differ. In discussing the disciples' question to Jesus about restoring the 
kingdom to Israel (1:6, p. 52), the author recognizes that the question has to do 
with the time of restoration, not its factuality, but he then proceeds to interpret 
it as a reference to the restoration of spiritual Israel with little argumentation. 
His tone, however, is not demanding nor combative. 

Kistemaker deals with most of the problem passages which bother inter- 
preters, and does so in a readable fashion which should be appreciated by most 
users of this commentary. One does not need to be a technical expert in the 
Greek language to find this volume a great interpretive help. Among the inter- 
pretations he espouses are the following: the Acts account of the Field of 
Blood is supplemental to the Matthew account but not contradictory (p. 62); 
the tongues of Pentecost differ from those at Corinth, and Spirit baptism and 
water baptism normally occur simultaneously (p. 78). There is an excellent 
summarizing statement on New Testament teaching about the reception of the 
Holy Spirit (p. 302). No position is taken as to whether Philip was supernatu- 
rally removed from the vicinity of Gaza (p. 321), but he concludes that Paul 
was a failure in his early years of ministry (p. 354). 

In regard to the troublesome reading ei<; (eis) in 12:25, Kistemaker opts 
for Metzger's translation, but with some hesitation (p. 448). He puts the Coun- 
cil of Jerusalem prior to Paul's second journey, but equates it with Galatians 2 
without explaining how it could be Paul's second visit to Jerusalem, and not 
his third as Acts indicates (pp. 533, 536). He experiences difficulty (as most in- 
terpreters do) explaining the friendliness of the Asiarchs to Paul (p. 701). The 


Western reading of 24:7 is accepted, but the use of brackets is advocated to in- 
dicate the problem (pp. 837-38). An excellent map is provided to explain the 
Phoenix harbor problem (p. 923), and a helpful explanation is given for the 
name of the storm Euroquilo (pp. 925-26). Some interesting suggestions are 
given as to why the Roman Jews claimed ignorance of Paul's case (pp. 960- 
61). Kistemaker believes Paul was released after his two years of imprison- 
ment (p. 967), and suggests the constant stream of soldiers assigned to guard 
Paul during imprisonment not only heard the gospel from him, but also became 
missionaries when they were subsequently posted to another part of the Roman 
empire. Thus was fulfilled Jesus' mandate that apostolic witness was to go to 
the ends of the earth (1:8, p. 968). 

This is an excellent commentary on Acts which will provide a fruitful re- 
source for anyone studying this pivotal book of the New Testament. It should 
become a standard work for many years. 

Homer A. Kent 
Grace Theological Seminary 

The Epistles to the Thessalonians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, by 
Charles A. Wanamaker. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. 
Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990. Pp. 316. $29.95. 

Charles Wanamaker, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Religious 
Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, has made a valuable con- 
tribution to The New International Greek Testament Commentary series. In 
keeping with the design of the series, Wanamaker's contribution demonstrates 
rigorous and detailed exegesis of the Greek text, interaction with recent schol- 
arship, and sensitivity to the theological themes in the epistles and the historical 
context. One unique feature is Wanamaker's use of sociological interpretation, 
which adds depth and insight to the understanding of the epistles. 

Perhaps the most significant feature of the commentary is Wanamaker's 
judicious application of classical rhetorical criticism. Following Jewett (Thes- 
salonian Correspondence, pp. 72-72) Wanamaker classifies 1 Thessalonians 
as a demonstrative/epideictic letter (pp. 46-48). This category conveys praise 
(or blame) of one's behavior. Even though praise dominates the epistle, the 
parenetic element is also present in a supporting role, suggesting Paul was per- 
suading the Thessalonians to maintain a certain style of life. Analysis of rhe- 
torical genre not only discloses Paul's intention but also indicates that he was 
satisfied with the Thessalonians' progress. Wanamaker classifies 2 Thessalo- 
nians as a piece of deliberative rhetoric since it seeks to persuade the readers to 
change their beliefs regarding the day of the Lord and to act decisively against 

Wanamaker uses rhetorical criticism not only to provide genre categoriza- 
tion but also to analyze Paul's structural relationships, purpose, argumentation, 
use of evidence, and control of emotion. Such analysis pervades the comments 
throughout the work. Wanamaker argues that neither thematic nor epistolary 
analysis is adequate by itself (pp. 46, 215). 


The structure of both books is based on a combination of rhetorical and 
epistolary criticism, with the rhetorical structure of the body being placed 
within the epistolary prescript and closing. Wanamaker divides 1 Thessalo- 
nians into the Epistolary Prescript (1:1), Exordium (1:2-10), Narratio (2:1- 
3:10), Transitus (3:11-13), Probatio (4:1-5:22), and Peroratio and Epistolary 
Closing (5:23-28). He divides 2 Thessalonians into the Epistolary Prescript 
(1:1-2), Exordium (1:3-12), Partitio (2:1-2), Probatio (2:3-15), Peroratio 
(2:16-17), Exhortatio (3:1-15), and Epistolary Closing (3:16-18). 

Another distinctive element of the commentary is Wanamaker's reversing 
the traditional order of the epistles. Although the priority of 2 Thessalonians is 
not novel with Wanamaker, it is perhaps the first application of the theory in a 
major commentary. By reversing their canonical order, Wanamaker contends 
that a number of introductory and exegetical problems can be resolved, espe- 
cially the relationship between the two epistles. Wanamaker, following others 
who hold this view, suggests that Timothy delivered 2 Thessalonians during 
the visit mentioned in 1 Thess 3:1-5. Paul had thought that the Thessalonians 
were in danger of being shaken in their faith from outside influences. To cor- 
rect the situation, Paul sends Timothy and our 2 Thessalonians. When Timothy 
returned with news that the circumstances were not as precarious as Paul sup- 
posed, Paul wrote our 1 Thessalonians praising them on their steadfastness and 
moral progress. Those who hold the traditional order are confronted with the 
problem of the abrupt deterioration of circumstances between the two epistles. 
This problem, along with several others, is solved by positing the priority of 
2 Thessalonians. Wanamaker comments on the books in their traditional 
sequence to make the work useful for those who are hesitant about accepting 
his theory. 

In the lengthy introduction Wanamaker methodically reviews the argu- 
ments against the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians and the literary integrity of 
both epistles. After pointing out weaknesses in the argumentation and evaluat- 
ing counterarguments, he concludes by favoring the traditional position on 
both issues. This same precision is observed in his treatment of exegetical 

The commentary contains more translation of Greek words and phrases 
than previous volumes, reflecting a conscious effort of the editors to fulfill one 
intent of the series, to be accessible to those with only limited knowledge of 
Greek. Most technical and rhetorical terms are defined within the commentary. 
The end matter contains an author index, a subject index, and an index of an- 
cient works. The work is immensely readable, holds one's interest, and is a 
pleasure to use. 

In summary, the commentary is scholarly, innovative, provocative, clearly 
written, marked with careful exegesis, sound argumentation, and conservative 
conclusions. Wanamaker explores various interpretative views with precision 
without becoming pedantically boring. It is a must for theological libraries and 
highly recommended for professors, pastors and students of the Greek New 

Richard A. Young 

Chattanooga, TN 


Two Hundred Years of Theology: Report of a Personal Journey, by Hendrikus 
Berkhof. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Co., 1989. Pp. 316. 

Hendrikus Berkhof (retired professor of theology, University of Leiden) 
has written this book as much for himself as for others who would read and 
follow what he presents. For this reason it is a mistake to come to this book 
without recognizing the role played by the subtitle. But this point hardly tells 
the story of this book. Two Hundred Years of Theology is not as it would ap- 
pear to most potential readers at first glance, a textbook about or descriptive of 
the various significant persons, movements and philosophies which have 
played such significant roles in that which is often classified as "Modern The- 
ology." This does not mean that this does not occur in these pages or that little 
about the various influential positions is not given. Quite the opposite is the 
case as a rule. But the reader must grasp these points in the dynamic context of 
the particular setting and flow and influences which each have their part to play 
in theological formulation. This book is no mere analysis from some lofty pin- 
nacle above the strivings of the theological task but rather Dr. Berkhof 's own 
wrestling with various theologians and theological and philosophical trends (as 
directly or indirectly impressing theological thinking, e.g., Kant, Fichte, Hegel 
and Heidegger). The purpose is to understand how these worked out and/or 
affected the relationship of the gospel message and their particular (Western) 
culture. This point is repeatedly emphasized throughout the text in the attempt 
to understand theology in light of the fact that this relationships is inevitable as 
Paul's own ministry may exemplify ("to the Jews I became ... to the Greeks 
I became ... in order to win . . . "). It is with this concern in mind that Berkhof 
makes repeated reference to the Lebensgefuhl of each theologian as he did his 
work, i.e., theology done (consciously or unconsciously) as it reflects a par- 
ticular era's positive or negative (etc.) "sense of life." 

Berkhof does interact with almost every major theological and philosophico- 
theological figure and movement in the last two hundred years ("Liberation The- 
ology" discussed only in appropriate contexts). Unlike most such works which 
focus on Continental European or specifically German developments, this book 
gives helpful and insightful chapters on directions in the United States, Great 
Britain and in Berkhof 's homeland, the Netherlands. Chapter by chapter, he 
walks through and with the life, times and individual developments in thought of 
each theologian as he actively engages himself in the theological task as a teacher 
of the gospel message in this or that setting and under varied cultural or historical 
influences. Some let culture dominate the message. Others give less than ade- 
quate attention to the culture in which the gospel message was given (in this book 
it is usually the former — Barth and Kierkegaard being among the exceptions). 
The result is a larger continuity which is intended by Berkhof to override the in- 
dividual chapters which discuss these theologians or movements as they attempt 
to bring or relate the gospel to culture. Berkhof makes clear that some have done 
a much more effective job in this than others. But Berkhof is always irenic, avoid- 
ing hasty, caricatured judgmentalism in his negatively constructive assessments. 
This spirit of the work is to be appreciated. Theology, as he says, is a human en- 
deavor not done in heaven by already glorified human beings. In the context of 
real human existence Berkhof says, "The Christian church must, in the name of 


its Lord, be where the wayward are. And theology, as scholarly reflection on the 
movement of God toward his lost world, must mirror this movement in its theme" 
(p. 302). 

This book brought forth initial hopefulness (as a possible text for "Modern 
and Contemporary Theology"), then disappointment (for it does not simply ana- 
lyze positions point by point), and then finally a positive change of mind. This 
is a telling work about the nature of the theological task in the world. While 
Berkhof has not given much reference to Protestant Orthodoxy in the book (he 
apologizes for this decision and gives some of the reasons for it in the "Pref- 
ace"), he does examine nineteenth century Reformed Orthodoxy in the Nether- 
lands (Kuyper, Bavinck, Berkouwer) in light of the great cultural as well as 
theological impact of that movement. Some of his comments which do "slip" 
through are less than fully complimentary, but maybe these ought to be seen as 
a prod toward a greater engagement in the larger theological task (within the Eu- 
ropean context Hendrikus Berkhof is usually regarded as basically "orthodox"). 
The closing discussion of the doing of theology, the relating of the gospel to a 
God-estranged (but loved) world and the "future" of theology is a fine capstone 
to this "personal inquiry" which will become itself, it is hoped, an effective 
"road" toward theological insight for many more. This book is recommended. 

John D. Morrison 
Liberty University 

The Case for Christian Humanism, by William R. Franklin and Joseph M. 
Shaw. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 270. $18.95. Paper. 

The second of two books, following Readings in Christian Humanism and 
completing "a four-college project called 'Humanism in an Age of Limits: A 
Christian Perspective,'" The Case for Christian Humanism is a provocative 
combination of history and polemic. In an attempt to redress the imbalance the 
authors see in contemporary American Christianity, the book cites historical 
evidence and philosophical rationale for the thesis that "the classical faith con- 
fessed by Christians in every generation implies a strong and caring interest in 
human beings as such" (p. ix). 

To be certain, the term humanism is a vexed one for many conservative 
Christians. Fraught as the term is today with overtones of "secular humanism," 
the authors are careful to establish early on that their view of Christianity is or- 
thodox (p. xvii) and that they reject secular versions of humanism as substan- 
dard for the Christian (chap. 1). The material in this opening chapter assures 
the conservative reader that the authors' epistemology and axiology are consis- 
tent with historical Christianity. 

In a brief overview (chaps. 2 and 3), Franklin and Shaw trace the history 
of humanism from an early form, in which radical secularism was not present, 
to its split into "secular" and "Christian" forms. While this section is admit- 
tedly introductory, the cursory nods toward Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, and 
Marx are inadequate to establish the radical secularism which Christians in a 
post-modern culture must counter. Happily, however, the authors extend their 
brief discussions of the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Council 
of Trent, and modern-day ecumenism in later chapters. 


Following their introduction, the authors begin with the Bible, Old and 
New Testaments alike, as the source for a high view of humanity as created in 
God's image and the object of God's soteriological love in the incarnate Son of 
God. "At the heart of Christian humanism," Franklin and Shaw write, "stands 
the Incarnation of the divine Word in the living, historical actuality of Jesus." 
And again, "There is a point of contact between human nature and the Logos 
which became flesh in the human nature of Jesus" (p. 62). Perhaps the most 
thought-provoking chapter in this part of the book is that on "Paul, Witness to 
the New Humanity," because of the perception held by many that Paul was so 
concerned with preaching the gospel that he ignored temporal human needs; 
the authors argue that Paul was thoroughly "humanistic." 

In parts three and four, Franklin and Shaw argue three propositions, 
largely through historical analysis. First, they emphasize the centrality of the 
eucharist to Christian experience and to proper Christian humanism — in its Ro- 
man Catholic, as well as its Protestant forms. Second, they argue for the neces- 
sity for especially American Christians to go beyond their individualism toward 
Christian community, in which the human worth of all people — no matter their 
race, culture, financial and social positions — is actively affirmed. Third, they 
suggest that the modern ecumenical movement "has the potential for a signifi- 
cant advancement of Christian humanism in our time" (p. 42). Throughout their 
arguments, the authors marshal evidence from Christian traditions as disparate 
as Luther and Calvin, the Council of Trent, the Scottish Iona Community, Vat- 
ican II, and the ARC (Action, Reflection, Celebration) Ecumenical Retreat 
Community in Minnesota. Finally, attention is paid to a number of contempo- 
rary social concerns, such as the environment, from the perspective of the 
Christian humanism promoted in the book. There can be no doubt that Franklin 
and Shaw see Christian humanism as a return to a proper Christian orthodoxy. 

While it is doubtful that any reader will agree with all that Franklin and 
Shaw write, The Case for Christian Humanism is a compelling and worthy 
book. The thesis that contemporary American Christianity needs to reconsider 
the social and human implications of the gospel is timely. For this reader, the 
most irritating aspect of the book was its attempt to cover too much historical 
data, much of it extremely significant, without the detailed analysis that it war- 
ranted. Nonetheless, the book will prod most people's thinking about the con- 
dition and nature of American Christianity at the end of the twentieth century. 

Michael E. Travers 
Grand Rapids Baptist College 

Creation and the History of Science, by Christopher B. Kaiser. Grand Rapids: 
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991. Pp. 316. $17.95. Paper. 

Dr. Christopher Kaiser teaches historical and systematic theology at West- 
ern Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church, Holland, MI. He shows fa- 
miliarity with a wide spectrum of material and names throughout the history of 
science. This book is the third in a series called The History of Christian The- 
ology, an analysis of "the Christian tradition from an historical perspective." 
The first two volumes are The Science of Theology and The Study and Use of 
the Bible, both with multiple authors. 


The theme of this book is the waxing and waning of creationist tradition 
in science. This does not refer to creationism in its modern, narrow sense. In- 
stead, Kaiser lists four distinct parts of the rich tradition: 

Comprehensibility — The world is accessible to human understanding. 

Unity — We live in a universe, with the same physical 

laws acting throughout. 
Autonomy — God has established these natural laws by which 

the universe acts, thereby keeping it from chaos. 
Healing and Restoration — Medicine, technology, and creation 

stewardship are ethical outworkings of science. 

These themes are traced through the centuries in both East and West cultures. 
Certain figures are emphasized, as for example Basil, Bishop of Caesarea in 
a.d. 370. Basil first formulated the four creationist traditions in the Hexae- 
meron, a popular series of lectures on the first six days of creation. Some of 
Basil's wise quotes could have been made yesterday: 

The astronomers have measured the distances to the stars, yet they have not real- 
ized that God is their Creator and Judge (p. 5). 

Living out his faith, Basil founded history's first hospital or infirmary for the 
public in a.d. 372. 

During the twelfth century, the rise of natural philosophy and the restric- 
tions of Aristotelian science led to a breakdown in the creationist science tradi- 
tion. There developed a polarization between attempts to understand the 
workings of nature, and the placing of these same workings in a supernatural, 
"hands off" category. The organized Church during 1200-1400 stifled inquiry 
and consequently stagnated. 

Kaiser continues with the renaissance rise of modern science. His many 
quotes are especially fascinating to anyone familiar with physical science. For 
example, scientist Tartaglia was concerned about his books on ballistics, writ- 
ten during 1537-1546. He knew they had military value, and concluded that 
their publication would be "cruel and deserving of no small punishment by 
God" (p. 113). Geologist Agricola (1494-1555) concerned himself with the 
propriety of disturbing the earth in order to extract metals (p. 115). Some of 
this ethical reflection, if revived, could do much to raise the credibility of cur- 
rent science. 

As Kaiser approaches the present era, names appear frequently: Boyle, 
Kepler, Newton, Maxwell, Bohr, Einstein, and a hundred others. For each, 
Kaiser evaluates their fidelity to the creationist tradition. Isaac Newton wrote 
his Principia Mathematica in 1687 "with an eye upon such principles as might 
work with considering men, for the belief of a Deity" (p. 180). Kepler included 
prayers in his professional writings. 

Meanwhile, today "the most that can be said is that a few scientists have 
allowed the possibility of God's existence in their more popular writings" 
(p. 301). Kaiser believes that the creationist tradition continues nevertheless; 
the values "live on in the minds of physical scientists independently of, or 
even in the absence of, personal religious faith" (p. 307). However, the future 
is uncertain. The time may come when technical progress halts and faith is 


again needed for advancement as in past centuries (p. 308). Looking at current 
trends in science, many would conclude that this crisis is fast approaching. 

Don B. De Young 
Grace College 

Life's Ultimate Questions: A Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, by John P. 
Newport. Word Publishing, 1989. Pp. 644. $16.95. 

Dr John Newport, Provost and professor of philosophy of religion at 
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has long sought to deal with life's 
ultimate questions. The "Preface" to this lengthy work gives much insight not 
only into John Newport's thirst for knowledge and life's ultimate questions but 
into his desire to communicate biblical answers to such questions to others (as 
he does regularly around the country and beyond). Because of this he has writ- 
ten numerous previous works that have touched variously on issues that he has 
brought together in this his magnum opus. 

This is not a run-of-the-mill book on philosophy of religion. The purpose 
is much more openly stated and clearly perceived on almost every page (espe- 
cially near the beginning and end of each major chapter). Further, Newport 
deals with questions not often dealt with so directly, if at all, in other books 
considered to be philosophies of religion. This book is meant to have, and in- 
deed, ought to have a wide readership. It has been written in a semi-popular 
way for the purpose of accessibility and effective ministry. After a very signifi- 
cant chapter on "the Biblical World view" and the application of such to life's 
ultimate questions, Newport gives ample discussion, debate and analysis to the 
meaning of history, religious and biblical language (God-talk), science and the 
biblical world view. The following topics are discussed; science and the issues 
of prayer and miracles; evil and suffering along with the issue of demonic 
powers; death and the life beyond; world religions; the relationship of faith 
and reason in the knowledge of God; human morality; and finally the arts, cul- 
ture and worship. This overview should be indicative of this book's uniqueness 
and its intention to minister and teach. 

In coming to each critical issue/question Newport begins by carefully lay- 
ing the foundations and expanding the reader's vision for the angles, facets and 
aspects that this problem surfaces. While having to be succinct at this juncture, 
Newport is usually fair, seeking to avoid the heavy handed measures that would 
defeat the very purpose of the book itself. After the exposition and analysis of 
the various perspectives, Newport begins gathering together some of the reflec- 
tions that had arisen in the process (for example, that which is good and right 
in a particular viewpoint). He develops the biblical perspective while showing 
how it answers the questions more effectively than all other options. This 
method is hardly new but Newport's own style and concerns along with his abil- 
ity to communicate God's truth make this very effective in most cases. 

This book is usually quite satisfactory, even excellent at points (given its 
expressed purpose and range). Any person relatively educated could read this 
book easily and with much stimulation and profit. One will not agree with New- 
port at all times but his perspectives at each point and under each question are 


truly Christian, stimulative, and viable. As mentioned above, Newport has in- 
cluded the discussion of questions not usually included in other, often more 
scholarly, texts on philosophy of religion. The discussions on the development 
of the earth and mankind, Christianity and the World Religions, evil and de- 
monic activity and the Christian view of the various arts were the most stimu- 
lating and controversial. Newport is clearly antidispensational (he has not read 
anything more recent than Ryrie and clearly knows little of development in this 
school of thought nor does he have any real aspect for creation science as a sci- 
ence). He seems to hold (its hard to tell) to a form of theistic evolution, but 
m/cro-evolution and not macro-evolution is considered as the appropriate or 
operative description. At times, Newport's chapters seem to be merely a string- 
ing together of the thoughts of other authors, but his discussion is helpful. 

All in all, with these points in mind, Life's Ultimate Questions by John 
Newport would serve as a basic undergraduate text (with supplements) in phi- 
losophy of religion. 

John D. Morrison 
Liberty University 

The Supremacy of God in Preaching, by John Piper. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker 
Book House, 1990. Pp. 119. n.p. Paper. 

This is a book of extraordinary value, one which every pastor and every 
aspirant to the gospel ministry should read as soon as possible. As the title in- 
dicates, John Piper, pastor of Bethelehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, holds 
that preaching should be first and foremost about God. In today's ecclesiastical 
atmosphere churchgoers have come to expect that the main purpose of preach- 
ing is to provide solutions for their problems. The author of this highly read- 
able and powerful book contends, on the contrary, that preaching should extol 
God. "Our people need to hear God-entranced preaching. They need some- 
one ... to life up his voice and magnify the supremacy of God. They need to 
behold the whole panorama of his excellencies" (p. 11). This may not be what 
people want, but it is what they need, for their salvation and sanctification de- 
pend upon it. "Holiness is nothing other than a God-centered life — the living 
out of a God-entranced worldview" (p. 11). 

In a time when much preaching is autobiographical in character and pulpi- 
teers often seek to be clever and amusing with anecdotes, Piper's thesis may 
seem radical, but it is actually a plea for a return to the apostolic methods 
through which God has times been pleased to send revival to his people. 

As a young theology student John Piper began a thorough study of 
Jonathan Edwards as a theologian and preacher. That study has become a life- 
long undertaking that has convinced Piper that he must preach with the same 
"gravity and gladness" that Edwards displayed. "His preaching was totally se- 
rious. . . . You will look in vain for one joke in the 1200 sermons that remain" 
(p. 47). Edwards refrained from almost every pulpit device that modern 
preachers employ, yet God blessed his ministry abundantly, even to the point 
that historians often cite it as the beginning of the Great Awakening in Amer- 
ica. Perhaps Piper is right in contending that many preachers want revival "and 


then proceed to cultivate an atmosphere in which it could never come" (p. 56). 
In other words, until ministers become God-centered in their lives and in their 
preaching, there is no reason to expect revival. Why should God honor pulpit 
presentations that do not focus upon him? 

Because The Supremacy of God in Preaching contradicts current philoso- 
phies of preaching, it will probably provoke some who read it. Pastors who are 
willing to engage in critical self-examination may, however, find their attitudes 
and therefore their ministries transformed by its influence. Perhaps they, like 
John Piper, will make "the grand object of preaching . . . the infinite and inex- 
haustible being of God, and the pervasive atmosphere of preaching the holiness 
of God" (p. 20). What could be better? 

James Edward McGoldrick 
Cedarville College 

God, Language, and Scripture: Reading the Bible in the Light of General Lin- 
guistics, by Moises Silva. Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation, vol. 4. 
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. Pp. 160. 

Now more than ever, the church has no excuse for misreading the Bible. 
In a lively, informative, current, and wide-ranging introduction to his subject, 
Professor Silva broaches a number of linguistic principles foundational to re- 
sponsible exegesis, and at a crucial time. The present maze of hermeneutical 
and textual questions raised by deconstructionist, marxist, and feminist criti- 
cism can be diversionary at best, subversive and stultifying at worst. Further, 
despite the many inroads to critical theory made by Post Structuralism (with its 
basic assumptions that the only world that exists is the "world" of language — 
there is no reality outside of texts — and that textual meaning is indeterminate), 
a number of American seminaries seem fairly receptive to the idea of requiring 
less rigorous study of biblical languages. This last concern elicits a useful ap- 
pendix to God, Language, and Scripture (pp. 141-45), a brief but pointed de- 
fense of Hebrew and Greek in the seminary core curriculum. Preceding this 
afterword are seven chapters containing plentiful insights not only into issues 
that inform both language and hermeneutics but also the multi-faceted nature 
of language itself. 

The book delivers noticeably more than it promises. According to the 
preface, "One of the purposes of this book is to provide guidance in the use of 
the biblical languages" (ix). That guidance covers a broad area of discussion, 
beginning with a brief introduction (pp. 11-18) and proceeding through a 
chapter on the origin and theology of language (chap. 2); the interdisciplinary 
nature of linguistics (chap. 3); Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek within the context 
of general linguistic history (chap. 4); and selected points of comment on pho- 
nology, lexicology, syntax, and discourse-level issues in biblical languages 
(chaps. 5-7). While some readers at first may perceive these categories to be 
esoteric, Professor Silva's lucidly written text is quite accessible to his in- 
tended audience (educated readers, some of whom may lack formal training in 
biblical languages [p. ix]). One strength of this book, therefore, is its clear, but 
not simplistic, explanations of potentially abstruse content. 


Another accomplishment is less apparent but hardly incidental to the over- 
all design of the book. In short, Professor Silva calls for a more holistic meth- 
odology in exegesis, broadening the older emphasis upon only grammar and 
history. This goal, never stated explicitly, deserves some careful analysis here, 
due to its pervasiveness in the book and its importance to the ongoing synthesis 
of literature, history, and theology into a well-developed hermeneutical model. 

Numerous comments throughout the book build a momentum supporting 
the author's call for a more consistent and integrated hermeneutic. The opening 
chapter, for example, is delightful in its satiric treatment of overzealous exe- 
getes who emphasize word studies ad nauseam; some readers, in fact, may find 
Silva's approach to be reminiscent of Jonathan Swift's ridicule of uncontrolled 
rationalism through his deliberately ludicrous word studies in Gulliver's Trav- 
els. In a later passage of God, Language, and Scripture, commenting upon lan- 
guage as a coherent system of human expression, the author advises: "we do 
not do justice to language if we treat it atomistically, analyzing its individual 
components without reference to their place in the linguistic system" (p. 45). 
This advice is repeated two pages later. In chapter 5, while remarking that ety- 
mology has its proper function in interpretation (e.g., in tracing the usage of, 
say, rare Hebrew words in OT poetic passages), Silva offers an important qual- 
ification: "Most words . . . are widely attested and their meaning can be clearly 
established from the numerous contexts in which they appear. This state of 
affairs is especially true of New Testament Greek, which ironically has been 
subjected to a great deal of (unneeded) etymologizing" (p. 88). On the very 
next page Silva puts the matter frankly: "etymology seldom has a role to play 
in the interpretation of texts" (p. 89). 

In addition, throughout chapter 6 — a sentence-level and discourse-level 
description of the biblical languages — readers will find additional comments 
supporting a more holistic methodology. Silva begins with the reminder that 
"the meaning of Scripture is to be found in its propositions, not in isolated 
words" (p. 99). From here the author proceeds to discuss verb tenses, contrast- 
ing English usage with that of Hebrew and Greek, and concludes with a note 
about the importance of context in exegesis. His comment may serve also to 
illustrate his clarity of style: 

an interpreter is unwise to emphasize an idea that allegedly comes from the use of 
a tense (or some other grammatical distinction) unless the context as a whole 
clearly sets forth that idea. Whether the use of the tense contributes to that idea or 
whether it is the idea that contributes to the use of the tense is perhaps debatable, 
but no interpretation is worth considering unless it has strong contextual support. 
If it doesn't, then the use of the grammatical detail becomes irrelevant; if it does, 
then the grammar is at best a pointer to, not the basis of, the correct interpretation 
(p. 118). 

The importance of this advice is difficult to overstate. In setting forth the mutu- 
ally informing relationship between grammar and context, Silva assigns gram- 
matical issues less imperial status within the process of interpretation but without 
analyzing the terribly complex issue about whether meaning ultimately resides in 
concepts or words. Analysis of this latter issue is peripheral to the main point: 
syntax, diction, and the like must not be used as autonomous determinants but as 


relational indicators of textual meaning. Silva's concern about the authority of 
context is voiced often (but not excessively), as when he cautions that "meaning 
cannot be discovered apart from context" and that people "do not morally convey 
meaning by single propositions, but by propositions that form part of a larger 
whole (including the situation common to speaker and hearer)" (p. 124). This en- 
tire point alone — within the total context of the book — makes God, Language 
and Scripture essential reading. 

What, then, are some implications of this exhortation to practice a more 
inclusive exegesis? Four are clear, one dealing with the biblical text itself and 
three with the process of interpretation. First, the divine inspiration of Scrip- 
ture means that "its unity and coherence take on a completely new dimension" 
(p. 125); second, "we should read the Bible the way we read other literature" 
(p. 125); third, "the biblical books were meant to be read as wholes and that is 
the way we should read them" (p. 125); and fourth, "if the time and effort often 
invested in isolated word studies were redirected toward this kind of analysis, 
Bible students would gain a proportionately greater understanding of what the 
text says" (p. 127). All in all, Silva hopes to enable readers to use biblical lan- 
guages wisely, including careful attention to the genre of a given book as well 
as Sitz, what some literary critics call the original rhetorical situation. His book 
achieves that aim, but his working out of it has a particularly focused objec- 
tive, i.e., the facilitation of the use of language in general and within the 
hermeneutical process in particular, all of this leading to well-formulated, ac- 
curate exegesis. Whether God, Language, and Scripture achieves this goal re- 
mains to be seen, based upon readers' applications of the book. 

If it has any shortcomings, they would have to include the favorable tone 
in which Ferdinand de Saussure's theories are discussed. True enough, Saus- 
sure questioned the practice of "diachronics" alone (i.e., studying language by 
examining its development over time) and recommended a "synchronic" ap- 
proach, i.e., examining language also according to a single clearly-defined 
chronological period. The influence of diachronics in biblical studies is appar- 
ent through the emphasis placed upon word studies in exegesis, the very prob- 
lem that Silva attacks. His discussion in chapter 3 is all the stronger due to the 
careful definitions and illustrations of the terms diachronics and synchronics 
(pp. 42-44). 

One wonders, though, about the necessity of drawing Saussure into the 
discussion without at least an exhortation or two about some pitfalls within the 
larger scope of his research. While he did advocate a more synchronic than 
diachronic approach to the study of language, he also developed a theory that 
would allow later theorists to deny the very possibility of determinate meaning 
in a text. Saussure argued for the arbitrariness of a sign (basically the utterance 
by which an object is expressed) and a signified (the object itself). For ex- 
ample, there is no reason for pronouncing ch the way many English speakers 
do, especially given the different pronunciations based upon whether the 
signified is spoken in isolation (i.e., c-h) or as part of a word (as in choir or 
chore). In both words why is ch not pronounced the same way? Ultimately, 
claimed Saussure, there is no logical or necessary relation between the sign 
and the signified. The process of uniting the two, he proposed, is free associa- 
tion — with the two exceptions of onomatopoeia (in which the sound of the 


signifier resembles the sound of the signified [e.g., buzz, moo]) and portman- 
teau word (i.e., the union of two words to form a new one [e.g., dishwasher, 
nightfall]). How then does language work? Supposedly by social convention, 
by the given assumptions about a particular language within a community of 
speakers at a specific time. 

The problem here is twofold, one of origin and another of application, 
specifically to modern criticism. If language originated in arbitrariness and free 
association, what does this assumption imply about the nature of God, the Cre- 
ator of language, the First Speaker? Did He call language into being by some 
irrational act, without design or motive? To be sure, His reasons and rational- 
ity far transcend our own, but something here deserves a few comments by 
Silva, especially given the importance of the doctrine of inerrancy. The second 
aspect of the problem is the linkage of three ideas central to critical theory: 
Saussurean arbitrariness, opposition as a principle in interpretation (noted by 
Silva on pp. 46-47), and the recent rise of deconstruction and reader response 
theory. Deconstruction operates, principally, upon Derrida's concept of differ- 
ence (pronounced with the accent on the second syllable, creating a cute word 
play between differ and defer). Accordingly, texts lack determinate meaning 
because they are constantly "deferring" meaning away from themselves, to 
something else, to an Other. Therefore, historical and biographical studies 
have no place in criticism, intentionality is at best a hoax, and the idea of au- 
thorial personhood in texts belongs somewhere within a Eurocentric pride and 
privilege of days long past. Reader response, in turn (a la Stanley Fish), argues 
that since the author has no binding influence upon the meaning of a text, the 
meaning lies within the reader's language community. 

This far-too-sketchy comment of mine on recent critical theories has two 
close connections to Silva's argument. First, his use of Saussure is fair as far as 
it goes; but readers who turn to the linguist's own writing (i.e., Course in Gen- 
eral Linguistics, cited in at least two of Silva's many copious and helpful foot- 
notes throughout the book) will find more of an opponent than an advocate. 
Second, the chaos of modern criticism, developing in part from Saussure's 
thought, helps to explain why the Bible, or any other text, is often misread. In 
all fairness, God, Language, and Scripture has a wholesome, positive tone that 
is gently prescriptive rather than forcibly corrective. Even so, readers need a 
bit more reference to certain details about Saussure's ideas and the rise of mod- 
ernism, commentary all the more needful given Silva's apology in the appendix 
for the study of biblical languages. 

Otherwise, God, Language, and Scripture is a pleasure to read. Its spar- 
kling wit and anecdotal style sustain the reader's interest throughout. One 
memorable example is the quip about excessive use of chiasm in reading bibli- 
cal texts. To one researcher's claim that the Epistle to the Galatians is one giant 
chiasm, Silva replies: "More often than not, proposals of this sort are charac- 
terized by . . . source-critical surgery" (p. 123). Silva's touch here and in many 
similar passages exudes a sensitivity rarely found in books about linguistics. 
This wit enhances another effective device, the many vivid illustrations of 
words, phrases, and clauses from biblical languages. Instead of citing a few ex- 
amples or discussing other strengths (a great temptation indeed), I shall defer 
to my reader's own experience with the book — what in all likelihood will be a 


lively interaction with a well-written, engaging contribution to the intersection 
between biblical studies and that peculiarly modern fascination with language. 

Branson L. Woodard, Jr. 
Liberty University 

Ignatius Loyola: a Biography of the Founder of the Jesuits, by Philip Cara- 
man, S.J. San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1990. Pp. 222. $22.95. 

This reliable but not exceptional life of Loyola portrays him as saint and 
sinner. Although the Roman Catholic Church canonized him in 1622, it is evi- 
dent from the book that Ignatius once led a dissolute life of drinking, dueling, 
and debauchery. Caraman, a Jesuit himself, describes his subject as an adven- 
turous courtier who enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh until a dramatic conver- 
sion transformed him into a zealous soldier of God. 

In contrast with the image of Loyola as an austere, remote, and ascetic 
enemy of Protestant heretics, Caraman presents him as a cordial, warm- 
hearted, sensitive human being with a fervent love for God and man. He ap- 
pears in this study as a profound mystic who enjoyed direct revelations to 
which he responded obediently. Ignatius suffered a serious and painful leg 
wound that threatened to end his life. During convalescence he sought the aid 
of St. Peter, and he credited that Apostle's intercession as the means that saved 
him. Loyola read the lives of several Catholic saints in which he found much 
inspiration, and he claimed that a vision of the Virgin Mary changed him for- 
ever. Where he long struggled against sensuality, he related that the visitation 
of Christ's mother freed him from all such temptations. He thereafter resolved 
that his life would be a pilgrimage of penance and service to his church. It is 
clear that Ignatius believed that he had to expiate his own sins by self-denial 
and good works, and he became an outstanding example of late medieval piety. 

Like some other figures of religious history, Ignatius Loyola suffered from 
recurrent depressions, perhaps related to his uncertainty about his standing 
with God. Despite occasional visions and subjective revelations, he could not 
achieve assurance of salvation, for the works-righteousness teaching of the Ro- 
man Catholic Church did not allow for that. He wrote the Spiritual Exercises, 
"a manual for the practical purpose of helping a man to save his soul and find 
his place in the divine plan" (p. 41). 

No perceptive reader of this book could fail to be impressed with the sin- 
cerity and disciplined devotion of its subject to his ideals. Loyola and his dis- 
ciples in the Society of Jesus became a powerful force in the Counter- 
Reformation struggle against Protestantism. Their territorial and numerical 
successes are undeniable tributes to their devotion to duty as they understood 
it. It is evident, however, that they failed to understand the Christian faith 
properly and so committed themselves to the propagation and defense of a 
false gospel. The Jesuits categorically denied the Protestant principles sola 
scriptura, sola gratia, and sola fide. For about the first 300 years of their his- 
tory they sought to destroy Protestantism by all available means. One must 


acknowledge, of course, that their motive in doing so was to seek the salvation 
of heretics. Loyola and his company will ever remain examples of misplaced 
zeal. This book, although it contains little that is new, is a fine one with which 
to begin a study of the Jesuit phenomenon. 

James Edward McGoldrick 
Cedarville College 

Luther's Scottish Connection, by James Edward McGoldrick. Cranbury, NJ: 
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1989. Pp. 122. $26.50. Cloth. 

Martin Luther is usually identified with initiating the Protestant Reforma- 
tion with emphasis on his accomplishments in Germany. John Knox is nor- 
mally considered the most significant person in the Scottish reform movement. 
However, the way for Knox was paved by others including, according to the 
author, Martin Luther. 

Knox was a little-known follower of George Wishart, a Protestant who 
was martyred in Scotland less than two weeks after the death of Luther in Ger- 
many. The future leader of Scottish reform would undergo several years of de- 
velopment before establishing a Calvinistic church in Scotland. However, 
McGoldrick seeks to demonstrate that one cannot overlook the influence of 
Luther's ideas on Knox himself as well as upon other reformers in Scotland. 

McGoldrick claims no originality of ideas but purposed to bring together 
in one study material presenting the influence of Luther on Scotland by care- 
fully and capably collecting data which allows the reader the benefit of learn- 
ing about the influx of Luther's ideas into Scotland, leaders such as Patrick 
Hamilton (martyred in Scotland in 1528) and lesser known but important men 
such as William Arth, Alexander Seton, Henry Forrest, Alexander Alesius, 
John Gau and Henry Belnaves all serve as links in the Lutheran chain. 

Acknowledging the great influence of John Calvin and the Genevan com- 
munity upon Knox, McGoldrick presents briefly a perceived Lutheran influ- 
ence in the areas of justification by faith, predestination and the eucharist. 
Fully aware of the similar Calvinistic emphasis on the first two of these con- 
cerns, McGoldrick argues that Knox followed the Lutheran flow of argumenta- 
tion for predestination rather than the Calvinistic reasoning. Recognizing the 
disagreement that existed between sixteenth century Lutheran and Calvinistic 
ideas concerning the eucharist, the author contends that there is a "lingering 
influence of Luther's teaching" in the expressions by Knox on the subject. 
McGoldrick's assertions are interesting but a more thorough development 
would have served to support the argument better. 

The twenty-five page appendix, "A Brief Treatise of Master Patrick 
Hamilton Called Patrick's Places" is a valuable addition to the work and pro- 
vides the reader the privilege of doing primary source study. 

Some printing errors are found in the book. On page 18, line 23, a comma 
rather than a period should follow Hall. The word forgiven is misspelled on 
page 46, line 20. The word new in line 14 of page 59 should be capitalized in 
order to conform to the way the New Testament is found elsewhere in the 


book. In line 23 of page 62, the second in should be of. For reasons left unex- 
plained, the quotation from Patrick's Places on page 46 is rendered in modern 
English while the same statements in the appendix are not, though the same 
source is the basis for both. 

For those interested in the spread of Luther's reforming influence beyond 
Germany and, especially, for those lacking an awareness of Protestant influ- 
ences in Scotland prior to the reforming efforts of Knox, McGoldrick has made 
a commendable contribution. This work joins a previous effort, Luther's En- 
glish Connection, in helping students of the Reformation grow in their aware- 
ness of the unity of a movement which is most often viewed in the variety of 
its expressions. 

Ronald T. Clutter 
Grace Theological Seminary 

Teaching for Christian Hearts, Souls and Minds: A Constructive Holistic 
Approach To Christian Education, by Locke E. Bowman, Jr. San Francisco: 
Harper & Row, Publishers, 1990. Pp. 118. $15.95. Cloth. 

Locke Bowman's thesis is that religious education is generally conducted 
in a fragmented, piecemeal fashion with not enough emphasis given to whole- 
ness, organic thinking, and an overall framework guiding what and why Bibli- 
cal concepts are taught. He believes church teachers should marry the 
particular with the general, the affective and the cognitive, and content with 
form. He rightly believes that dependence upon a publisher's curriculum is no 
substitute for the teacher knowing the subject well and evidencing a real and 
personal commitment to the Lord. 

Bowman recommends that Christians work to make the Biblical language 
a common one again among the American populace. He notes that the public 
has reduced the Biblical language to a limited and contextual role. To this he 
says, if they do not understand, teach. He resists trendy efforts at contempori- 
zation of the Biblical text. 

The author acknowledges that many of his ideas are drawn from Rabbi 
Max Kadushin and from the Benedictine and Catholic traditions. Bowman fol- 
lows the Rabbi in conceiving of the great spiritual/religious ideas as "value 
concepts," held warmly as "common ideas/folk ideas." In particular, Bowman 
lists four concepts: God's love, God's justice, the Gospel of Christ, and the 
Church. He believes Christians should "avoid purely abstract definitions and 
analysis of the great words that signify vital, organic concepts" (p. 49). He re- 
peatedly notes that Scripture's "magni-concepts" cannot be defined. 

Bowman argues that faith is different from systematic theology and phi- 
losophy, believes that faith is mystical, and recommends that Christians look 
to people and experience for fideistic insight. To support his interpretation, he 
frequently cites Scripture, Church practice and liturgy, and tradition as appar- 
ently equally authoritative sources of spiritual understanding. 

Bowman's discussion is infected with a kind of theological anti-intellectu- 
alism which can only lead to skepticism. His emphasis on "concepts" relativ- 
izes a rational understanding of the "words" of the Bible. His recommendation 


that Christians avoid teaching Scripture as a "technical body of knowledge" as 
well as worry less about the logical consistency of the Scriptural message is a 
way to detach Christianity from a verbally inspired Biblical text. 

Bowman's emphasis on teaching Biblical language contradicts his belief 
that Biblical concepts cannot be defined. How can one teach Biblical truth if its 
definition is ever elusive? In fact, how can one know truth if by implication it 
has no immutability, objectivity and eternality? Bowman's text is an exercise 
in subjectivity. The real problem with this approach is that everyone ends up 
creating his own faith. "It's true for me. It works. It's of God." 

Bowman's text undermines a reasoned faith. His assertion that the Bible is 
not a "servant of logic" is theologically dangerous, as is his recommendation 
that Christians search for evidence of the presence of God in living human be- 
ings but not for systematic lines of reasoning about Biblical truth. 

Romans 12:1-2 makes it clear that Christians are transformed by the re- 
newing of their mind. God's Word is logically coherent and consistent and man 
is a reasoning being if not always reasonable. Peoples' grasp of right doctrine 
does not necessarily produce right living, but right living is only possible via 
right doctrine. 

Other problems plague the text. For example, Bowman does not document 
why he believes liberals are less inclined to finger-pointing or that the Chris- 
tian faith has always embraced revolution. And despite his dislike of trendy 
approaches to Biblical language, Bowman tends to use annoying terms like 
"clergy persons," "humankind," and "Christian personhood." While something 
can be learned form reading any book, this one is not recommended. 

Rex M. Rogers 
The King's College 

The Environment and the Christian: What Does the New Testament Say about 
the Environment? edited by Calvin B. DeWitt. Grand Rapids: Baker Book 
House, 1991. Pp. 156. $7.95. Paper. 

The Environment and the Christian is a collection of essays on the New 
Testament's contribution to Christian environmental stewardship. The essays, 
which originated at a forum sponsored by the Au Sable Institute of Environ- 
mental Studies, are well researched and extensively documented. Unlike some 
collections of essays, the contributions complement each other and present a 
rather complete treatment of a single theme. As in all anthologies, however, 
the contributions vary in quality. 

The authors believe that the complacency of the church toward environ- 
mental issues is partially due to a failure to understand not only the New Tes- 
tament teaching but also the unity of Scripture. The authors note that most 
Christian writing on the environmental crisis has been based on the Old Testa- 
ment. Many Christians assume that environmental stewardship must also be 
found in the New Testament for it to be truly Christian. The book is primarily 
addressed to those who hold this view in that it challenges this assumption and 
corrects the false notion that the New Testament is devoid of environmental 


In the introduction DeWitt mentions seven degradations of creation: 
(l)land conversion and habitat destruction, (2) species extinction, (3) land 
degradation, (4) resource conversion and wastes and hazards production, 
(5) global toxification, (6) alteration of planetary exchange, and (7) human and 
cultural degradation. At the end of each section he asks what the New Testa- 
ment teaches regarding the particular degradation. He answers his questions in 
the epilogue where he concludes that the New Testament does not provide 
specifics but rather gives a framework by which to respond to the environmen- 
tal crisis in general. 

Loren Wilkinson argues for the cosmic dimension of the gospel where 
Christ is recognized as creator and redeemer of the earth. He finds "cosmic 
links" in three key passages: John 1:1—3, Col 1:15-23, Heb 1:1-3. This leads 
him to suggest that "world" in John 3:16 refers to the entire cosmos and to as- 
sert that "the cosmic concern of salvation is a central theme of the New Testa- 
ment." After reviewing various theories of the atonement, Wilkinson sets forth 
the atonement as the renewal of creation. As Wilkinson observes, this reverses 
the way salvation is understood in Western theology. 

Ronald Manahan develops the theme of Christ being the second Adam 
who undoes the damage caused by the first Adam (Rom 5:12-19). The damage 
is not only to the spiritual welfare of humans, but to the cosmos because of the 
solidarity of creation. 

The most provocative essay is "The Kingdom of God and the Stewardship 
of Creation" by Gordon Zerbe, the only contributor not identified with a bio- 
graphical sketch. Zerbe contends that the "New Testament projects a vision of 
the kingdom of God that is full of implications for a Christian environmental 
ethic." That ethic is based on a vision of how things ought to be, and how 
things ought to be is defined by the term righteousness (i.e., in right relation- 
ship). The kingdom of God involves the restoration of the entire cosmos to its 
original state and the reestablishing of righteousness, peace, and harmony. Its 
presence and futurity are linked in the ethics of the new community. The pres- 
ence of the kingdom means that this restoration has already commenced, a re- 
ality that obligates the new community to live by a new order of conduct. 

The book contains five essays, an introduction, epilogue, appendix re- 
viewing literature concerning environmental stewardship and the New Testa- 
ment, and indices. Although a few of the interpretations appear forced, the 
book overall is a valuable treatment and can be recommended to anyone inter- 
ested in a Christian perspective of environmental issues. 

Richard A. Young 
Chattanooga, TN 

Shaping Character: Moral Education in the Christian College, by Arthur F. 
Holmes. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991. 
Pp. 82. $7.95. Paper. 

This text is a primer on the transmission of values the author calls moral 
education or ethics. It is the result of a 1986 Christian College Consortium 


project called "Ethics Across the Curriculum" involving both faculty and cur- 
riculum development. The project, coordinated by Arthur Holmes, attempted 
to reawaken interest in the vision of nineteenth century moral philosophy 
courses. The project and this book represent a faculty desire to develop stu- 
dents' ethical perception, wisdom, and character. 

Holmes' book is an introduction that "concentrates on distinctively Chris- 
tian concerns both in the objectives it proposes and in the questions it raises 
about moral development theory and moral education in general" (p. ix). 
Holmes believes ethics should be everyone's business because it is an essential 
part of higher education to a liberally educated person, because it should be a 
distinctive emphasis in Christian higher education, and because values are in- 
trinsic to both the subject matter taught and the way it is taught. Ethics, he be- 
lieves, is also important because it provides for a discussion of moral 
educational objectives like consciousness-raising and sensitizing, values analy- 
sis, clarification, and criticism, moral imagination, ethical analysis, moral deci- 
sion making, responsibility as an agent, virtue development, and moral 

Holmes is opposed to both moralizing and indoctrination as approaches to 
moral education. Both techniques fail in developing students' ability to think 
for themselves in the fact of often ambiguous moral questions and hard deci- 
sions in a fast-changing age. Students' critical thinking skills must be devel- 
oped so that students not only know what they value but also why they value 
and what they ought to value. 

For the author, neither moralizing nor indoctrination are right or safe. Stu- 
dents must learn to analyze, understand, and make wise Biblically-informed 
judgments. Memorized answers and proof-texting are not enough. 

In Holmes' view, moral education in today's social climate requires both 
theological and philosophical literacy, and it involves both affective and cogni- 
tive objectives. Christian colleges must therefore be faithful in instructing stu- 
dents in identifying Biblical values (ideals, good desired ends). But Christian 
colleges must be aware that values cannot be imposed or legislated. The Holy 
Spirit must develop students' cognitive and affective understanding of God's 
purposes, and spiritual development (sanctification) must progress with moral 

Holmes takes a stand on what has long been a criticism of the values 
clarification movement and what has recently been a debate among faculty 
members in Christian colleges. Should professors assume a "value neutral" or 
a "value advocacy" posture with respect to the major questions presented in 
the classroom? 

Professor employing a values clarification approach have been rightly 
challenged for developing students' ability to identify and even debunk the val- 
ues students currently hold, while not providing them with a trustworthy or 
even coherent set of new values. In this manner, the values clarification ap- 
proach tended to encourage relativism, individualism, and naturalism. On the 
other hand, some professors argue that students need, want, and pay for the 
mature judgment of their teachers. 

Holmes advocates advocacy, particularly in a Christian context. "Simply 
telling people what to decide will not teach them how to think through a new 


issue in the future and reach a wise decision for themselves. On the other hand, 
moral neutrality on the part of the teacher will not be helpful either: it implies 
there is little more to choose between and, still more important, it denies the 
value of modeling moral concern and commitment. Some kind of moral advo- 
cacy is needed that will go beyond a neutral stance . . . without engaging in 
unanalytic indoctrination" (p. 57). 

Holmes has not presented many new thoughts in this book for anyone who 
is reasonably conversant with a Christian philosophy of education. But the 
book rings true. It is encouraging to hear a mature and experienced thinker em- 
phasize the importance of developing students' values and thinking skills via 
professor modeling. Professors in Christian colleges occupy strategic vocations 
in God's vineyard, and when they fail as they have too often done in recent 
years, faulty fruit is borne if any fruit matures at all. 

This book is a good introduction to ethics for non-philosophers, and it will 
be particularly valuable as a supplementary text for Christian college students. 

Rex M. Rogers 
The King's College 

Reinventing Evangelism, by Donald C. Posterski. Downers Grove, IL: Inter- 
Varsity Press, 1989. Pp. 202. $9.95. paper. 

Reinventing Evangelism is a provoking book combining the best of two 
worlds — studies in evangelism and world view or culture. This book chal- 
lenges believers to use the information concerning the changing face of North 
American culture and integrate it with creative forms of evangelism. As the 
author states in the prologue, "This book has been written with the Bible in 
one hand and computer printouts in the other" (p. 1). It confronts Christians 
with the necessity of leaving their comfort zones to meet their neighbors, some 
of whom will have personal habits and lifestyles which are repulsive. It is a 
challenge to show and tell providing many pertinent examples and illustra- 
tions. For those familiar with Richard Niebuhr's Christ and Culture, Posterski 
follows the option entitled, "Christ transforming culture" (page 167). 

Posterski points out the alarming trend that is evidenced by research — 
there is no discernible difference between the people who go to church on Sun- 
day and the people who go golfing on Sunday (p. 2). "Christians seem to have 
little to offer beyond the invitation to a privatized faith experience and some 
new social contacts" (p. 2). Reinventing Evangelism is an attempt to explain 
this disturbing trend and offer solutions. Some would point to the obvious — 
many of these are not true Christians, however, Posterski sees part of the prob- 
lem as ineffective evangelism and attempts to correct the problem with this 
book. We must learn creative ways to share the gospel story and make it rele- 
vant to the personal issues that people face every day. 

The author introduces the concept of a Christian "meaning maker" in 
chapter two as a solution. A meaning-maker is a person who can make the 
most sense out of life because they have inside information (page 32). The es- 
sentials to becoming a meaning-maker: (1) Pray and experience God; (2) Care 
for people and yourself; and (3) Communicate all of God's truth (page 32). 


He concludes the book with ten essential principles for Christians desiring 
to engage their culture (p. 173ff.). These ten principles provide a good sum- 
mary of the content of this book. 

1. We must resist assimilation by saying no to the world's invitation to 
conform to its standards and patterns. 

2. We must reject abdication by not retreating into Christian ghettos 
thus succumbing to a false teaching of the Biblical doctrine of separa- 
tion. "They will aim to keep their membership in good standing in 
both the church and the world" (p. 174). 

3. We must treat individuals the way God treated us by allowing them 
the permission to choose what they want to believe and how they 
want to act. 

4. We will recognize that all men are created in the image of God and we 
will accept them whether those people have accepted Jesus or not. He 
points out that this acceptance does not mean approval nor agreement. 

5. We will choose to value people for who they are and understand that 
everyone has been touched by the goodness of God's creation. This 
will keep us from reducing people to evangelistic projects. 

6. Christians will assume that Christ's mission is their mission and live 
with an intentional commitment to influence people. This will cause 
interactions with people for the purpose of moving them toward God. 

7. Christians who engage the culture will bring the truth of God's world 
into life situations. They will enjoy the people God brings into their 
life and those who do not know God will be intrigued by their whole- 

8. Christians will remember that God is the creator and they are the cre- 
ated ones. They will consistently experience God personally and in- 
tercede for those who move in and out of their lives. 

9. Faithful Christians will do more than speak good words, they will 
demonstrate the good news with caring deeds. 

10. The Christian who engages the culture will interact with ideas. They 
will struggle to find God's point of view on issues of personal interest 
and on the broader issues of social concern. They will speak the truth, 
interpret the times, and expect God to miraculously break into their 

Posterski possesses a good knowledge of North American culture and pro- 
poses some simple yet challenging means of communicating the good news. 
He doesn't hide the fact that there will be obstacles some of our own making. 
He makes a strong statement about the "numbing effect of Christian radio and 
television" (page 86). 

Some will have problems with the use of Mother Teresa as a model of a 
modern Christian (page 112), however, in the context of the chapter she pro- 
vides a tremendous example. Those from a strict separatist or legalistic back- 
ground will view this book as compromise. I think it is a welcome addition to 
the body of literature concerning evangelism. 

Donald Posterski is the general director of InterVarsity Christian Fellow- 
ship in Canada. He is the author of other books including, Why I Am Afraid to 


Tell You I'm A Christian? Friendship, Friendship, and The Emerging Generation 
(coauthored with Reginald Bibby). He is a recognized expert on youth culture. 

Mark T. Totten 
Nashville Bible College 

The Middle East Maze: Israel and Her Neighbors, by David A. Rausch. Chi- 
cago: Moody Press, 1991. Pp. 208. Paper. 

David A. Rausch, professor of history at Ashland University, Ashland, 
Ohio, states his purpose in the introduction to the book: "As diplomats still 
deal with the question of Israel's existence as a sovereign state among her Arab 
neighbors, one perceives the complexity of the Middle East maze. This book 
will give the reader the historical background necessary to put these deep feel- 
ings into context and to provide the reader with the milieu of the modern Mid- 
dle East" (p. 16). This work will be particularly helpful to college students, 
who are not aware of Middle East events from the past forty years, and are try- 
ing to understand the tensions that exist in the current peace talks. Much of the 
information will be an excellent review for those who have read the newspaper 
and watched these events for the last four decades. 

Rausch seeks to fulfill his goal by surveying the historical background, 
political developments, and governmental leaders of Middle Eastern countries, 
primarily focusing on developments from World War I through Desert Storm. 
The first two chapters are a historical overview of the concept of "Arab na- 
tion," and a definition of what is designated by the term "Palestine." He traces 
the major events that gave rise to the Jewish state of Israel. In his interpreta- 
tion of these events, Rausch communicates a very pro-Israel message and a 
very anti-Palestinian sentiment. Palestinians are characterized as terrorists, de- 
spised by all Arab countries and deceitful politicians who cannot be trusted 
(pp. 41-53). On the other hand, Israelis are portrayed as innocent victims, who 
were forced into war and occupational roles, only motivated by a need for sur- 
vival. As one who has lived on the Green Line between the Palestinians and Is- 
raelis, and travelled with UN peace keeping officers into the occupied 
territories, I can testify that there is guilt on both sides, and a need for a more 
balanced view of these political events. 

All Palestinians should not be characterized with the image that this book 
implies. Rausch does not include in his survey the many terrorist acts that were 
also committed by Israelis against the British and Palestinians (ex. bombing of 
the King David Hotel). Christians must remember that there are many brothers 
and sisters in Christ amongst the Palestinians who are living under oppressive 
conditions forced on them by the tensions between Israel and the PLO. 

Chapter three traces the influence of the Christian community on the po- 
litical establishment of the state of Israel. Rausch documents books, periodi- 
cals, political figures, major conference movements, and the theological camps 
of premillennialists and inerrantists to reveal the support for Israel from its for- 
mation on May 14, 1948, until today. 

Chapters four through eight focus on Israel's neighbors and political ene- 
mies. Each chapter addresses two countries and includes a survey of their for- 


mation, major political leaders, historical events in relationship to modern 
Israel, and statistics on losses during the various Middle East wars. These 
chapters could have been enhanced with documentation of various sources as 
well as additional evidence for some of Rausch's conjectures (ex. Qaddafi and 
the purchase of American hostage Peter Kilburn (p. 146). He does include a 
bibliography which helps to make up for this deficiency. 

The final chapter looks at Israel and the lessons learned through the Per- 
sian Gulf war. Rausch offers insights about events that led up to Iraq's invasion 
of Kuwait as well as the difficult position that Israel found herself in during the 
conflict. He concludes that "For the time being, America's interests lie in a 
strong Israel" (p. 185). I concur with this statement, but also believe that 
Americans, and particularly Christians, must moderate our views with a rea- 
sonable, just, and compassionate attitude towards the many innocent neighbor- 
ing peoples, who are caught in the powerful struggles of Middle East politics. 

John A. McLean 
Grand Rapids Baptist College 


Books Reviewed 


Atkinson, David, The Message of Gen 1-11 (Don B. De Young) 119 

Botterweck, G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, Theological Dictio- 
nary of the Old Testament (Thomas J. Finley) 120 

Chisholm, Robert B., Jr., Interpreting the Minor Prophets (Branson L. Woodard). . 122 
Farmer, Kathleen A., Proverbs and Ecclesiastes: Who Knows What is Good? 

(Robert D. Spender) 126 

Phillips, John and Jerry Vines, Exploring the Book of Daniel (John I. Lawlor) . . 127 

Rice, Gene, 1 Kings: Nations under God (John I. Lawlor) 129 

Vawter, Bruce and Leslie J. Hoppe, A New Heart: A Commentary on the Book of 

Ezekiel (Richard Patterson) 131 

Widyapranawa, S. H., The Lord is Savior: Faith in National Crisis (Michael A. 

Grisanti) 134 


Bruce, F. F., The Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Introduction and Com- 
mentary (Homer A. Kent) 136 

Kistemaker, Simon J. , Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Homer A. Kent). . . 137 
Wanamaker, Charles A., The Epistles to the Thessalonians: A Commentary on 

the Greek Text (Richard A. Young) 138 


Berkhof, Hendrikus, Two Hundred Years of Theology: Report of a Personal 

Journey (John D. Morrison) 140 

Franklin, William R. and Joseph M. Shaw, The Case for Christian Humanism 

(Michael E. Travers) 141 

Kaiser, Christopher B., Creation and the History of Science (Don B. De Young) . 142 
Newport, John P., Life's Ultimate Questions: A Contemporary Philosophy of 

Religion (John D. Morrison) 144 

Piper, John, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (James Edward McGoldrick). . . 145 
Silva, Moises, God, Language, and Scripture: Reading the Bible in the Light of 

General Linguistics (Branson L. Woodard, Jr.) 146 


Caraman, Philip, S.J., Ignatius Loyola: a Bibliography of the Founder of the 

Jesuits (James Edward McGoldrick) 150 

McGoldrick, James Edward, Luther's Scottish Connection (Ronald T. Clutter) ... 151 


Bowman, Locke E., Jr., Teaching for Christian Hearts, Souls and Minds: A Con- 
structive Holistic Approach To Christian Education (Rex M. Rogers) 152 

DeWitt, Calvin B., ed. The Environment and the Christian: What Does the New 
Testament Say about the Environment? (Richard A. Young) 153 

Holmes, Arthur F., Shaping Character: Moral Education in the Christian Col- 
lege (Rex M. Rogers) 154 

Posterski, Donald C, Reinventing Evangelism (Mark T. Totten) 156 

Rausch, David A., The Middle East Maze: Israel and Her Neighbor (John A. 
McLean) 158 



Volume 12 No 2 Fall 1991 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

200 Seminary Dr. 

Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John J. Davis, Editor 

Gary T. Meadors, Jr., Assistant Editor 

David R. Plaster Assistant Editor 

Ronald T. Clutter, Managing Editor 

Rebecca Inman, Administrative Assistant 

Donald L. Fowler, Book Review Editor 

Grace Theological Journal began semiannual publication in 1980 superseding the 
earlier Grace Journal which was published by the Seminary from 1960-73. GTJ is 
indexed in Christian Periodical Index, Elenchus Bibliographicus Biblicus, New 
Testament Abstracts, Old Testament Abstracts, Religion Index One, and Religious 
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Subscription rates are $11.50/one year, $21.00/two years, $27.00/three years in the 
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Manuscripts for consideration should be sent in duplicate to the Managing Editor, 
Grace Theological Journal, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary Dr., 
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Hebrew, in contradistinction to JBL. 

ISSN 0198-666X. Copyright © 1993 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. 



Volume 12 No. 2 Fall 1991 


Law and Gospel in Lutheran Theology 163 


Law and Gospel in Reformed Perspective 181 


Law and Gospel in the Anabaptist/Baptist Tradition 189 


Law and Gospel in the Brethren Tradition 215 


Law and Gospel in the Wesley an Tradition 233 


The Key Role of Daniel 7 245 


"Dubious Evangelicalism?": A Response to John Gerstner's 

Critique of Dispensationalism 263 


Book Reviews (see inside back cover) 279 

Books Received 327 

Donald G. Bloesch 

University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, 2000 University Ave- 
nue, Dubuque, IA 52001 

Ronald T. Clutter 

Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary Drive, Winona Lake, IN 

Donald W. Dayton 

Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, 660 East Butterfield Road, 
Lombard, IL 60148-5698 

W. R. Estep 

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, P.O. Box 22000, Fort 
Worth, TX 76122 

Richard D. Patterson 

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, Box 20000, Lynchburg, VA 

David P. Scaer 

Concordia Theological Seminary, 6600 North Clinton Street, Ft. 
Wayne, IN 46825 

David L. Turner 

Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, 1001 East Beltline Avenue NE, 
Grand Rapids, MI 49505 


On March 20-21, 1992, the Midwest Regional Meeting of the 
Evangelical Theological Society took place at Grace Theological Sem- 
inary in Winona Lake, Indiana. The theme for the conference was Law 
and the Gospel. This issue of GTJ consists of papers, some in revised 
form, presented at the five plenary sessions and one workshop. We 
thank the presenters for their willingness to offer these papers for pub- 
lication. A variety of viewpoints was presented on the theme of the 
conference and positions espoused in these papers are not necessarily 
those of the GTJ committee or Grace Theological Seminary. These 
papers are being offered to our reading public due to the interest today 
in this topic and the quality of the material presented. 

We regret that in our previous number, 12:1 (Spring 1991), the 
final two lines of "The Soteriology of James 2:14," by Gale Z. Heide, 
were not printed. The concluding paragraph to the article should read: 

Finally, as students of the Bible, we must continually recog- 
nize that encounters such as these are not exercises in futility, but 
rather are a blessing to our soul as we grow in Christian maturity 
and become more familiar with the Word of God. We must con- 
tinually approach the Bible as our main sustenance, our "daily 
bread." We can only know our God as well as we study and learn 
about Him in the Self-revelation of His Word. 

Our apologies have been extended to the author for this printing error. 

It is with regret that we announce that the Grace Theological 
Journal ceases publication with this issue as a result of changes in the 
philosophy of seminary education and personnel at Grace Theological 
Seminary. I wish to thank Dr. Donald L. Fowler, Dr. Gary T. Meadors 
and especially our Administrative Assistant, Mrs. Rebecca A. Inman, 
who have served faithfully with me these last two years of publication 
as the committee overseeing the GTJ operation. Much has been accom- 
plished through the efforts of a small group. 

Persons with outstanding subscriptions will be reimbursed auto- 
matically by Grace Schools subsequent to the mailing of Issue 12:2. It 
may take several months for this process to be completed. Please do 
not write for reimbursement unless there is an address change that 
needs to be made or a reasonable time has elapsed after receiving 12:2. 
Persons wishing back issues from our inventory may purchase those at 
the following prices: 

Issues 1:1-7:2 are $2.00 each (except 3:1-2, which are out of 
print, and the larger 6:2 issue) 

Issues 6:2 and 8:1-11:2 are $3.00 each 

Issues 12:1-2 are $6.00 each 

Though the publication of GTJ comes to an end we trust that its 
ministry will continue as articles of enduring value remain a contribu- 
tion to the church of Jesus Christ. 

Ronald T. Clutter 
Managing Editor 

Grace Theological Journal 12.2 (1991) 163-178 


David P. Scaer 

Anon-Lutheran friend of mine sent me the account of an inter- 
denominational meeting in which a fire broke out. The reactions of 
each denomination were predictable. The Presbyterian elected a chair- 
person, whose task was to appoint a committee to report to the Session. 
The Methodists pondered the implications of the fire for the blessed 
assurance of salvation. The Roman Catholics took a collection for 
rebuilding. Baptist were heard asking loudly where was the water. The 
Congregationalists cried out: "Every man for himself." The Lutherans 
decided that the fire was against either a) the law or b) the gospel, and 
was in any event unlawful. That indelicate introduction may have been 
on the mind of your planning committee in having a Lutheran lead off 
on the topic of the law and the gospel. 

Simply through over use I have developed a dislike for theological 
cliches. My unfavored ones include 'word and sacrament' and 'means of 
grace', but my most favorite unfavored remains 'law and gospel'. Recit- 
ing cliches provides no guarantee that the sublime realities which they 
intend to represent are presented. I am sure that we agree that the law 
and the gospel should be preached, but I am not so certain that the use 
of a cliche, including this one, accomplishes the task. Somehow even 
more experienced preachers can ascend the high pulpit and use the law 
and gospel cliche and by doing only this have preached neither the law 
nor the gospel. The real challenge is to preach the law and the gospel 
without ever using these terms. By themselves each of these terms is 
open to misinterpretation. Such phrases as 'gospel ministry', 'gospel 
preaching', 'evangelist', which is only the Greek derivative for 'a gospel 
preacher', can in common parlance refer to revivals and revivalist 
preaching, which can be strongly law orientated. On the other hand the 
invitation to live by the gospel can be no more than an enticement to 
moral license without any imperatives whatsoever. 1 

l A certain John Agricola taught that repentance was not to be taught from gos- 
pel and not the law. This position was condemned by Formula of Concord V and VI, 
the articles on the law and the third use of the law. The Book of Concord, tr. and ed. by 


I would like to address the following subtopics under the heading 
of the law and the gospel: (1) The law and the gospel as a characteris- 
tic of Lutheran theology. (2) How does the law and gospel relate to our 
understanding about God? (3) Overcoming the contradiction between 
the law and the gospel. (4) The traditional three uses of law with spe- 
cial attention to the third use. (5) The law and the gospel as a herme- 
neutical instrument. (6) The law and the gospel as a homiletical device. 

1. The Law and the Gospel as a Characteristic of Lutheran Theology 

The law and the gospel expresses the human dilemma in which 
the Christian experiences what he can only understand as a contradic- 
tion in a God who hates and loves him at the same time. St. Paul to 
contrast his former life in Phariseeism and new life in Christ speaks of 
the bondage of the law and the freedom of the gospel. Paul's use of 
these words in this way does not prevent him from using these words 
in other ways and should not be made normative for the rest of the 
Scriptures. Law can refer to the first part of the Old Testament canon 
or the entire canon. The psalmist (Ps 1:2) who delights and walks in 
God's law is not as much morally self-confident, as he finds confidence 
in the salvation of God's people as recorded in the Pentateuch. Torah is 
the account of Israel's redemption from the bondage of Egypt with the 
promise that God will continue to act redemptively in behalf of his 
people. Torah, the written law or Scripture, is what we would call gos- 
pel, the promise of salvation, in the phrase the law and the gospel. In 
the New Testament law, nomos, can also be a synonym for the gospel, 
as in the phrase the law of Christ. Gospel can mean the message Jesus 
preached, the message about Jesus, or one of the four books about 

Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1959) 558-68. This edition of the Lutheran 
Confessions is simply called 'Tappert'. 

2 For an extensive discussion, see Werner Elert, The Structure of Lutheranism I (tr. 
Walter A. Hansen; St. Louis: Concordia, 1962) 17-178. Elert's section on the law re- 
flects Lutheran thinking with its title "Under the Wrath of God" (17-50). 

3 Cf. Eugene F. Klug, "The Third Use of the Law," A Contemporary Look at the 
Formula of Concord (ed. Robert D. Preus and Wilbert Rosin; Saint Louis: Concordia, 
1978), 187-204, esp. 188-89. "Luther could not have put their existential tie in the sin- 
ner's life more graphically than when he compared the Law to the upper grindstone and 
the Gospel to the lower grindstone. The Law crushes pretension of self-achieved righ- 
teousness out of the human breast; the Gospel breathes life and forgiveness into the smit- 
ten breast." 

4 For a detailed discussion of law, nomos, see Greek-English Lexicon of the New 
Testament I, ed. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida (New York: United Bible Soci- 
eties, 1988). In Rom 5:13 it is used of regulations (395). In John 10:34, nomos is used of 
the Old Testament Scriptures (395-96). In Rom 8:2 it is used for principle and in the 
first case refers to the gospel and the second the law: "For the law of the Spirit of life in 
Christ Jesus has set me from the law of sin and death" (426-27). 


Jesus, which contains both law and gospel. Taking an oath by the gos- 
pel is taking an oath by the first four books of the New Testament 
Scriptures. In this sense both gospel and law (nomos) can refer to writ- 
ten Scriptures. 6 We should not even bother ourselves in saying that 
Old Testament is law because it predominates the message there and 
that the New Testament is gospel for the same reason. Historically 
these words have been manipulated to cause theological confusion. For 
Marcion the law represented the inferior revelation of the Old Testa- 
ment to be replaced by his narrowly defined canon of the New Testa- 
ment as the gospel. Whether this manipulation was done ignorantly or 
deliberately, Marcion's procedure has reappeared under other guises. 

For Martin Luther the law and the gospel expressed his own exis- 
tential experience, not totally unlike that of St. Paul. The law described 
the early period of life in which he attempted to convince himself of 
personal salvation through works prescribed by medieval Catholicism. 
This contrasted with the new found freedom in the gospel of the Refor- 
mation. For him the Catholicism of his day offered the gospel as if it 
were the law. The Roman Church did not deny the fundamentals of the 
faith, but presented them as demand. Luther's resolution of his personal 
dilemma by the Biblical data which promised freedom and not demand 
in the gospel was perhaps more than any other factor the primary cause 
of the Reformation. Law was demand and the gospel was God's free 
gift in Christ. In these senses we use these words in this essay. 

If Luther resolved the dilemma of the law and the gospel theolog- 
ically, he never resolved it existentially. For as long as he lived he 
understood himself as standing condemned and forgiven before God at 
the same time. It was not simply a matter of being rescued once, at one 
time, from law's condemnation by the gospel's emancipation. As long as 
he lived he was weighed down by the law from which he was freed by 
the gospel. The contradiction can be resolved theoretically, but never 
really within human experience. The law and the gospel are simul- 
taneous words of God to the Christian and not subsequent ones. The 
resolution of the tension between the law and the gospel is their 
destruction. Lutheran theology uses the Latin phrase simul iustus etpec- 
cator to express this existential dilemma. 8 Even the mature Christian 

5 John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark & Luke (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 
1992) 235. 

For a discussion of terms in a Lutheran perspective, see Francis Pieper, Christian 
Dogmatics III (tr. Walter W. F. Albrecht; St. Louis: Concordia, 1953) 222-24. Pieper is 
developing an argument presented in the Formula of Concord VI (Tappert, 478). 

7 Luther's Reformation discovery is associated with what has been called his 'tower 
experience'. There is scholarly debate as to the date, but none to its being the turning 
point in his formation of his principle of justification. See E. G. Schwiebert, Luther and 
His Times (St. Louis: Concordia, 1950) 145-96. 

8 See Pieper III, 228-35, "Law and Gospels as Opposites." 


never feels himself free from the sin and its curse. Christians die as 
much sinners as they do saints. Next to the person of Jesus Christ, no 
person has been the focus of more books than Luther. His contribution 
to theology, language, culture, government, and education is simply 
unmatched. Close to death, Luther was asked by his colleague Justus 
Jonas, "Reverend Father, are you willing to die in the name of Christ 
and the doctrine which you have preached?" He answered a distinct 
"Yes," heard by all in the room, and sank into a coma. Among the notes 
found on his desk, which may have been his last written words: "The 
truth is, we are beggars." 

The law and the gospel did not express a chronological sequence 
but an existential awareness of God in which he finds himself as saint 
and sinner at the same time. Lutherans should be a little uncomfort- 
able with the line in "Amazing Grace" that "I once was lost but now I 
am found." A profound sense of spiritual forsakeness persists as long 
as the Christian lives. In the confession of sins preceding the celebra- 
tion of the Sunday Holy Communion, the Christian prays as a lost and 
condemned sinner that he does not deserve to be forgiven, but asks that 
God would receive him for the bitter sufferings and death of God's 

1 ^ 

Son, Jesus Christ. He is always in the position of penitent David 
praying Psalm 51: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy ten- 
der mercies. Against thee only have I sinned and done this great wick- 
edness in thy sight." He is always like Isaiah praying that he is a 
person of unclean lips. He is the unworthy centurion under whose roof 
Christ dare not come. He is Peter confessing sin and being restored. 
The Christian forgives seven times seventy, because God in Christ has 
far exceeded that number. Within the liturgy of the Lutheran church, it 

9 Schwiebert, 750. 

10 John M. Todd, Luther: A Life (New York: Crossroad, 1982) 370. 

"This point is made by Lowell C. Green, How Melanchthon Helped Luther Dis- 
cover the Gospel (Fallbrook, California: Verdict, 1980) 263. In speaking of the Christian 
as simul iustus et peccator, Luther "retained the paradox but meant instead that the be- 
liever was a sinner in the eyes of the world but was a just person in the sight of God and 
under God's forensic declaration for the sake of Christ and His righteousness. . . . This in- 
sight of the reformers [Luther and Melanchthon] was tragically confused in ensuing years. 
If some seventeenth-century dogmaticians not only tended to distinguish justification and 
sanctification but also to separate them, the eighteenth century pietists went to the opposite 
extreme. They thought one was a sinner and then a just person (in a before-and-after ar- 
rangement) rather than simultaneously sinful and just through forensic justification." 

12 This hymn by John Newton is found in Lutheran Worship (St. Louis: Concordia, 
1982) 509. 

^Lutheran Worship, 138-39. 

14 The conclusion of Psalm 51, "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord," ordinarily 
precedes the celebration of the Holy Communion (Lutheran Worship, 143-44). 

15 In the Order of the Confessional Service of The Lutheran Hymnal, the Christian 
as a penitent sinner is to compare himself with David, Peter, the sinful woman and the 
prodigal son (St. Louis: Concordia, 1941) 48. 


is not impossible to pray the Lord's Prayer several times: "And forgive 
us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." 16 The 
Christian cannot escape the contradiction of the God who rejects him 
for not fulfilling the law and at the same time loves him in Christ. The 
law and the gospel theme is problematic simply because of this contra- 
diction and is theologically troublesome because of the attempts to 
resolve this contradiction. This contradiction must be addressed. 

The law and the gospel theme is more crucial for understanding 
the genius of Lutheran theology as it leaves the Christian in a contin- 
ued unresolved contradiction of being a sinner, even though he has 
been declared a saint by the gospel. Lex semper accusat, the law 
always accuses, traditionally known as the second use of the law. 
Lutherans are hardly alone in understanding the law as accusatory, but 
it characterizes their approach as its major use or so it seems. The 
Reformed have traditionally put the weight on the third use of the law 
as a guide in Christian life. The Arminians have down played the law 
in favor of the gospel, but still the emphasis is on the Christian life 
with the possibility of moral progress or even perfectionism, though 
perfectionism is a goal never realized. The Lutheran position is per- 
haps the most philosophically unsatisfying because the Christian is 
continually confronted by a God who hates and loves him at the same 
time. He cannot escape it. This allows no sense of self-satisfaction or 
accomplishment. He sees himself going nowhere. He is always starting 
all over again. He is not the saint who occasionally sins, but the saint 
who feels himself in such a constant state of siege that he still under- 
stands himself as sinner. Such a view in which the law and the gospel 
are severely contrasted may however actually be the emotionally most 
satisfying, because it explains the human dilemma of knowing that we 
never really do what is required of us. 

At this point the Christological factor must be introduced. Certainly 
there can be no suggestion that Christ is a sinner, but like the Christian 
who is at the same rejected and accepted in the law and the gospel, 

16 The Lord's Prayer is used by Lutherans at Baptism and Ordination and in the 
Holy Communion and the minor services of Matins, Vespers' Morning Prayer, Evening 
Prayer, and Compline. According to Luther's Small Catechism it is to be prayed along 
with the Ten Commandments and the Apostles' Creed by the family in Morning and 
Evening Prayer and also before and after meals (Lutheran Worship, 305). 

17 Apology IV, 38 (Tappert 112). "For the law always accuses and terrifies con- 
sciences. It does not justify, because a conscience terrified by the law flees before God's 

Lex est Deus accusans et damnans; evangelium est Deus absolvens et iustifans 
(Pieper III, 250). 

19 This position came over into Lutheranism through Pietism which had roots in 
Reformed theology and was akin to English Methodism. For a scholarly discussion of 
Pietistic influence in Lutheran theology, see Carter Lindberg, The Third Reformation 
(Macon, Georgia: Mercer, 1983) 131-78, "The 'Second Reformation'— Pietism." 


Christ in his atonement is accepted and rejected by God at the same 
time. He who is abhorrent to God on account of our sin is the sweet 
smelling sacrifice. He who is slain by God is also raised by him. Christ 
becomes a paradigm for the Christian's life. He experiences to the 
extreme what the Christian does in his daily life, a dilemma which he 
cannot escape. 20 This severe contrast or dichotomy between law and 
gospel, of being rejected and accepted by God, can degenerate into an 
unbridled dualism with disastrous consequences in any ontological 
understanding of God. We must attempt to address this question next. 

2. How Does the Law and Gospel Relate to Our Understanding 
about God? 

While the law and the gospel are intended to describe man's 
dilemma and not a contradiction within God, it is imperative to focus 
the category of law and gospel back on God himself. If his revelation to 
man can be described by the categories of law and gospel, can God be 
described in these terms? Let us answer this question in a preliminary 
way. Apart from the law-gospel category, I can have no authentic expe- 
rience or valid knowledge of God, but this contradiction cannot possi- 
bly exist in God. Marcion and Gnosticism resolved the contradiction 
philosophically in favor of the gospel by degrading the law. The Old 
Testament as law was seen as an inferior revelation in comparison to 
the New Testament as gospel. From that it followed that the New rather 
than the Old gave us the true picture of God. In fact different deities 
were posited for each testament. This view resulted from a theologi- 
cal failure which required linguistic manipulation in assuming that the 
law referred solely to the Old Testament and the gospel to the New. It 
was only a minor confusion, but resulted in creating a religion that sim- 
ply was not Christian. Dispensationalism has faced this dilemma not by 
a multiplicity of gods, but by positing periods or epochs of different 
revelations. God chooses to unveil different motives or plans of salva- 
tion. In its simplest form the religion of the gospel has replaced the 
religion of the law, though most forms of dispensationalism are more 
complex than this. No change is attributed to God, but to the way in 
which he deals with man. This approach in resolving the contradictions 
or differences at least raises the question of why the same God chooses 
to act in different periods of time in different ways. A similar approach 

20 See my "The Concept of Anfechtung in Luther's Thought," Concordia Theologi- 
cal Quarterly 47 (1983) 15-29. 

21 Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition I (2nd rev. ed.; tr. John Bowden; 
Atlanta: John Knox, 1975) 99. "Marcion is characterized by extreme dualism. In his 
'Antithesis', in complete contradiction to the Christian tradition from which he came, he 
assumed the existence of two gods, one of the Old Testament and another of the New." 


is offered by Religions geschichte which in comparing religions sees an 
evolutionary process in man's search for God. Influential for any mod- 
ern evolutionary theory of religion is Schleiermacher who assumed the 
religion of the law in the Old Testament was inferior to the gospel of 
the New. German theology has never been able to escape this evolu- 
tionistic thought in religion in which the New Testament in offering the 
gospel is seen as superior to the Old Testament. We might quibble with 
their definition of the gospel, but the gospel regardless of how it is 
defined was viewed as superior to the law. The names of Adolph von 
Harnack and his step-disciple, Rudolph Bultmann, could also be men- 
tioned. With both men Pauline theology with its clearer dogmatic out- 
lines is seen as a regression from the pristine simple gospel of Jesus. 
Dispensationalism resolves the difficulty in favor of the epistles. All 
these views share in common the attempt to resolve the tension 
between the law and the gospel by applying them to periods of time. 
Thus it is not uncommon to hear that God of the Old Testament was 
vengeful and wrathful, but the God of the New is loving. Though this 
does not intend to be a presentation in Biblical theology, I contend that 
it may be just the reverse should be argued. The God of the Old Testa- 
ment was more patient and hence more loving than the God of the New 
Testament. The command to exterminate the Canaanites is no more 
severe than the warnings of Jesus that Jerusalem shall be leveled to 
rubble. This I offer for the sake of argument, as God is consistent in his 
love. As inadequate as these answers attempted by some (e.g., Mar- 
cion, Schleiermacher, dispensationalism) were in resolving the tension 
of the law and gospel, they did recognize how uncomfortable tensions 
are in theology, especially as they apply to God, The question is 
whether the law or the gospel are equal revelations of God. 

This question becomes crucial. If we say that the law and the gos- 
pel have nothing to do with what God is in himself, then we are pushed 
in the direction of agnosticism. But if we say that the law and the gos- 
pel are revelations of God with equal force then we are forced into a 
dualism of seeing a God with competing motives to love and to hate at 
the same time, a form of Manicheanism. If we see law as primary, we 
seemingly deny the God whose ultimate revelation is in man's salva- 
tion. If we choose the gospel, we are threatened with anti-nomianism. 

22 Cf. James Dahl, "Friedrich Schleiermacher and His Renunciation of the Old Tes- 
tament," a lecture delivered and distributed at the Midwestern Conference of the Evan- 
gelical Theological Society at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN, 20 March 
1992. Dahl is an assistant professor at Trinity Seminary, Deerfield, Illinois and devel- 
oped the lecture from a Ph.D. dissertation in process. 

23 The point was made in a lecture and defended by Myron J. Houghton, "Law and 
Gospel in Dispensational Tradition," given at the Midwest Evangelical Theological So- 
ciety Meeting, Grace Seminary, Winona, Indiana, March 20, 1992. 


Here lies a reason for the divisions within Christendom, even if it lies 
unrecognized beneath the surface. 

3. Overcoming the Contradiction between the Law and the Gospel 

In the phrase the law and the gospel, the law is interpreted as 
requirements and prohibitions, what man is and is not allowed to do. 
Even a minor infraction incurs a penalty. The ultimate penalty is eter- 
nal separation from God. The Levitical laws set forth requirements and 
prohibitions with corresponding penalties and sacrifices. Thus the ines- 
capable impression is that God is to be understood chiefly in terms of 
prescriptions with rewards for favorable behavior and penalties for 

The view provided by the gospel is that God chooses or elects 
Israel and continues to love her in spite of her failures. These failures 
are not merely ritual misdemeanors but gross blasphemies. But even 
ritual misdemeanors reflect a fundamental disregard for God. Minor 
regulations reflect larger principles. The ban against muzzling the ox is 
an extension of the higher principle that refusing to pay a salary com- 
mensurate with the work is stealing. In spite of all the spiritual felonies 
and liturgical misdemeanors, God preserves the remnant. The love of 
God then comes to its fullest expression in the incarnation, atonement, 
and resurrection of Christ and embraces all and not just Israel. From 
this picture the law is seen as negative in demanding and punishing 
and correspondingly the gospel is seen as positive in giving what the 
law demands. This distinction between the law and the gospel is called 
by the Formula of Concord V "an especially brilliant light." 25 

But which of these contradictory pictures is the true picture of 
God? Is God to be understood through the law or the gospel or both, 
but in a particular order? The Apology of the Augsburg Confession (IV 
38) says the law always accuses: lex enim semper accusat. But this 
statement could not be true in an absolute sense. It speaks of man in 
the state of sin, the condition which he has experienced since the fall 
and will endure to the last day. In this condition everyone is born and 
dies. Before the fall the law did not condemn and at death the law 
looses its authority. Even in this life the Christian as saint is not con- 
demned by the law. Though law appears to man in the state of sin as 

Pieper discusses the differences that Lutherans have with Roman Catholics, the 
Reformed, and synergists under the category of the law and the gospel (I, 247-52). 

25 Tappert, 558. 

26 Lutherans distinguish man in the state before the fall, after the fall, regeneration 
and resurrection. Formula of Concord II (Tappert, 469). The law does not accuse in the 
first and the last conditions. In the condition of regeneration man as he is regenerated is 
not condemned, as sinner he is. 


demanding and punishing, law as it exists in God is neither demanding 
nor punishing, but it is the positive affirmation expressing God's rela- 
tionship to his creation. The transformation of law as positive affirma- 
tion into demand and punishment was caused by man's transgression. 
Within himself God is not an accumulation of moral negatives, but is 
throughout perfect love. 

Understanding the law as positive affirmation is understood by 
man only during his brief stay in paradise. He knew God as his creator, 
accepted his responsibility for creation, and procreated. He was pro- 
hibited from stepping out of this positive relationship with God. But 
this prohibition is not arbitrarily superimposed on man to test him, but 
was simply the explanation or description of what would happen to 
man if he stepped outside of the relationship with God in which he was 
created. The indicative was its own imperative. Pardon the poor illus- 
tration, but it would be similar to the prohibition of shaving with an 
electric razor in the bathtub. This action imposes its own penalty. This 
is quite different from murdering someone. There the penalty must be 
superimposed from the outside. 

Disregarding the prohibition is an unsatisfactory description of the 
cause of man's fall, if it suggests that God placed a negative in man's 
life. In the positive relationship man knew God's will and could do it. 
By stepping outside of the created order man brought calamity upon 
himself. The act provided its own consequences. In attempting to 
become like God he placed himself outside of a positive relationship 
with God, so that now God is seen as the enemy placing unjust demands 
upon him. The First Commandment prohibiting the worship of other 
gods is in no sense the arbitrary act of God determined to exercise sov- 
ereignty, but only the natural or logical consequence of the oneness of 
God. What was totally positive is now seen as completely negative by 
man. The law in this primitive, positive sense is a necessary and not 
alien or inadequate reflection of God's essence. The law is not a code of 
arbitrary restrictions placed by a capricious God on man. 28 

The Ten Commandments are afterthought in that they address man 
in his fallen condition. The law had to be set forth negatively because 
man in a state of sin could no longer understand God as he is. Even the 
negative expression of the law which man knows in the state of sin is 
an inverse reflection of the law in its original positive forms. Because 

27 See my "Formula of Concord: Article VI," Concordia Theological Quarterly 42 
(1978) 145-55. 

28 At the end of his explanation to the first commandment in his Large Catechism, 
Luther writes: "Let it suffice for the First Commandment. We had to explain it at length 
since it is the most important. For, as I have said before, where the heart is right with 
God and this commandment is kept, fulfillment of all the others will follow of its own 
accord" (Tappert, 371). 


of sin we are looking in from the outside and see an entirely different 
picture of God. The law which could be viewed as the positive rela- 
tionship of God and man is now seen by man as an impossible burden. 
Man whose entire existence was committed to God must be told in 
uncertain terms that all other gods have no existence and dare not be 
worshipped. In paradise polytheism was not even in the range of possi- 
bilities. Outside of paradise all sins were not only in the range of pos- 
sibilities, but became realities. 

Sin transformed the law. For example the command not to murder 
reflects that God is life. This and the other negative assertions of the 
Commandments do not have an eternal origin in God, but are the posi- 
tive commands of God reflecting his eternal nature, now transformed 
and translated into terms which man in the state of sin can understand. 
Even here the negative commands are bifurcated. Man can regulate his 
outward behavior by refraining from the evil prohibited by these nega- 
tive commands, the so called first or civil use of the law, but he cannot 
control his inner and true self. He cannot put God before himself. The 
same law, which controls man's outward behavior, is addressed by God 
to man's inner self so that he becomes aware of his estrangement from 
God and his moral incapacity. This is known as the second use of the 
law. For the sake of his own sanity, he can ignore the law's piercing of 
his inner being or he can delude himself into believing that he has 
actually fulfilled it. In other cases he pretends it does not exist. He 
lives an amoral life with no reference to God or any law. 

In the condition of sin, man is on the outside looking in. The gates 
of heaven and paradise are shut. He, not God, is responsible for his 
exclusion, for seeing law as a negative intrusion in his life. The "thou 
shalt not's" are of man's own doing. Now Christ enters into man's situ- 
ation, takes his place, fulfills the law perfectly not only by refraining 
from all immorality but by doing positive good and then suffering the 
full consequences of man's fall. Christ understands and accepts God's 
no and yes in his life. Christ's fulfilling of the law becomes the gospel's 
content. Only where Christ in his atonement continually and always is 
preached is the Gospel being preached. By faith man is set within a 
positive relationship with God and man is free from the curse of the 
law and fulfills God's law both positively and negatively. Where Christ 
as living sacrifice and atonement as the end and completion of the law 
is not preached there is no gospel. There is no church. There is no sal- 
vation. But though the law and the gospel look contradictory to man in 
a state of sin, there is no contradiction in God. The God who created 
the world out of love and set man in a positive relationship with him- 
self is the same God who redeems the world out of love. But the divine 
love revealed in the gospel not only has its origin in God's creative 
love for the world, but in God himself. The God who loved the world 


in sending the Son is the same God who created the heavens and the 
earth. The Trinitarian doctrine is distorted beyond recognition when 
the Father is seen as the expression of law within God and the Son as 
love. God is love and the eternal generation of the Son from the Father, 
the creation of the world with its positive expression of the law, and 
the Gospel must be understood in terms of love. Thus God's redemp- 
tion of the world must never be seen as incidental to God's essence, as 
if he did not want to do it or was even forced to do it. He wanted to do 
it and he wanted to do it because he is love. The gospel is the final rev- 
elation and expression of who God is. We are not dealing with differ- 
ent gods in the law and gospel or even different dispensations, but with 
the same God. 

Even the translation or transformation of the law from positive 
description and affirmation into negative prohibition is an expression 
of divine love. By the horror of the law with its demands and punish- 
ments, God intended that man should be diagnosed as sinner to be 
receptive to the gospel. 29 In no way does God intend the law to be his 
last word to any man, even the man who is rejecting Christ. As severe 
as the law is, the law is God's alien work in that it does not reveal to us 
what God is really like. It is a saving work because it brings man to the 
depths of desperation where only the gospel can help him. Rejecting 
the gospel is worse than any offense against the law, because it is not 
merely the refusal to conform to a divine code, but the rejection of 
God's free gift in Jesus Christ. Sins against the law have been covered 
by the atonement. Man's rejection of the atonement is not. 

4. The Traditional Three Uses of Law with Special Attention 
to the Third Use 

Problematic is the use of the law in the Christian life, traditionally 
called the third use. Does this mean that since the Christian now lives 
his life freed from the law by the gospel, that he is free from directives 
of the law? Or is the opposite true? Is the law reintroduced as a regu- 
lating phenomenon in the Christian's life? There is no argument in 
Lutheran theology that the civil use of the law regulating outward 
behavior remains in force for everyone, including Christians. No better 
proof of this reality exists than driving along at 80 mph and seeing the 
red and blue lights of a state police car behind you. A letter from the 
IRS has the same effect. Since the law always accuses the sinner, it 

29 Formula of Concord V (Tappert, 560). 

30 In Lutheran theology the gospel is offered through preaching, Baptism, the 
Lord's Supper, the Office of the Keys [Absolution], and the church (Smalkald Articles 
III, IV; [Tappert, 310]). 

31 The three uses of the law are spelled out in Formula of Concord VI (Tappert, 563). 


continues to function in this way in the life of the Christian who 
remains as much a sinner as a saint, simul iustus et peccator. The lit- 
urgy of the Lutheran Church following that of the ancient catholic and 
orthodox church allows for the worshipper continually to confess his 
sins and receive absolution. The daily commemoration of Baptism in 
Luther's Small Catechism requires that the old man die each day with 
all its evil lusts and desires and a new man be daily resurrected. 

Confusion on what is meant by the third use has lead to its rejection 
by certain Lutheran theologians. This is somewhat of an internal 
embarrassment, since the third use of the law is entitled to a separate arti- 
cle in the Formula of Concord, the definitive confessional document for 
Lutherans. For others the third use of the law has been interpreted simply 
to mean that the first and second uses of the law remain in force. Such 
a view is not the Lutheran one, even though some Lutherans have 
claimed this definition. The introduction of the law into the life of the 
Christian seems a legalistic intrusion denying the freedom of the gospel 
or turning the gospel into law because the gospel requires or demands 
certain types of behavior. In answering this ticklish question for Luth- 
erans, I would like to make reference to Luther's understanding of the 
Ten Commandments in his Small Catechism as a way out of this 
dilemma. The reformer's explanations of the commandments, with the 
exception of the first and sixth, have two parts: negative prohibitions and 
positive requirements. Thus the one on killing prohibits bodily harm to 
our neighbor and requires providing for his physical needs. The one on 
stealing prohibits any attempt, even if it legal, to obtain the neighbor's 
property. Rather he is required to help the neighbor improve it. Luther 
by not mentioning outward robbery and murder assumes that the Chris- 
tian simply will not do these things. Gross immorality is out of range for 
the Christian, but refraining from it does not even begin to fulfill the 
commandments. Any harm to the neighbor breaks the commandments. 
You may not rob the neighbor, but if you manipulate law or contract to 
deprive him of his property, you stand condemned. Perhaps Luther's 
delineation of the law of God to less than blatant transgressions is accept- 
able by all. But Luther reverses the negative prohibition into the positive 
requirement of helping the neighbor, especially in his distress. The pro- 
hibition against cursing God becomes a requirement to pray. Instead of 
saying foul things about our neighbor, even if they are true, we are to put 
the best construction on everything. Luther's explanation of the first and 
sixth commandments have no prohibitions whatsoever. He turns the first 

32 Tappert, 349. 

33 The problem is alluded to by Hans Schwarz, "The Means of Grace," Christian 
Dogmatics (2 vols.; ed. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson; Philadelphia: Fortress, 
1984) 2:275. 


commandment around so that the prohibition against idolatry becomes 
an invitation to faith. What was law is now gospel. About the sixth com- 
mandment Luther makes no mention of adultery, but says that spouses 
should honor and love one another. 

In my estimation Luther's positive intensification of the command- 
ments is the work of theological genius. His explanation of the com- 
mandments are addressed to Christians, not non-Christians. They have 
nothing to say to civil law. Rather they are addressed to Christians as 
sinners and saints. Man as a sinner cannot escape the negative prohibi- 
tions of the law, but at the same time the Christian is addressed as a 
saint, taken back to that original paradise situation in which he loves 
God and his neighbor. The Christian, since he is in Christ and Christ in 
him, even before he becomes aware of the possibility of fulfilling the 
law, is actually fulfilling the law. 

Has Luther manipulated the Ten Commandments beyond their 
recognition by following the negative prohibitions with positive sug- 
gestions? Here is the law in its pristine sense as positive requirement 
as it was known before the fall into sin. Here is the law as it was 
fulfilled in Christ. All of the positive descriptions of the law in the 
Christian's life are really only Christological statements, things which 
Jesus did and which reached their perfection in him. The fulfilled law 
is Christological, as its is the account of the life and death of Jesus. He 
loved God with his whole heart, he prayed to God, he heard the word 
of God and kept it, he honored his parents, he helped those in bodily 
distress, he lived a life of pure thoughts, he provided for those in finan- 
cial distress, he spoke well of others, he had no evil desires. Christ is 
the fulfillment of the law not only in the sense that all the Old Testa- 
ment prophets spoke of him, but he is the positive affirmation of what 
God requires of us and what God is in himself. In Christ the tension of 
the law and the gospel is resolved. 36 

Luther's understanding of the commandments as positive Christo- 
logical affirmations are similar to the parable of the Good Samaritan, 
though I could hardly demonstrate any influence this pericope was on 
the reformer's mind. The commandments are not really fulfilled by 
refraining from the prohibited evil, but helping the stricken traveler. 
Thus Christians should be embarrassed into making any unwarranted 

34 Tappert, 342-44. 

35 As mentioned above, Luther said that if man knew the first commandment, he 
would not need the others. For a discussion on the significance of Luther's Small and 
Large Catechisms, see Luther's Catechisms — 450 Years ed. Robert D. Preus and David 
P. Scaer (Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1979). 

36 I have discussed this matter at previous times. "Sanctification in Lutheran Theol- 
ogy," Concordia Theological Quarterly 49 (1984) 181-95; "Sanctification in the Luthe- 
ran Confessions," Concordia Theological Quarterly 53 (1989) 165-81. 


claim to moral perfection for themselves. They should be so engaged in 
positive good that they have no time to think about their personal moral- 
ity or holiness. 

How did Luther come to such a radical contradiction which 
required that the Christian think of himself as total sinner and as a per- 
son who accomplished only the good things which Christ did? He took 
the first commandment with its prohibition against idolatry and turned 
into an invitation to faith: "We should fear, love, and trust in God 
above all things." The first commandment is transformed into a state- 
ment of the gospel. 37 But the reformer was not playing fast and free 
with the commandments, as in Exodus the commandments really begin 
with a statement of redemption: "I am the Lord your God who brought 
you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of bondage." 

5. The Law and the Gospel as a Hermeneutical Instrument. 

The law and the gospel cannot be looked upon as providing the 
hermeneutical key to every pericope in the Bible. Hermeneutics is too 
complicated a procedure to be resolved by a simple method. It can how- 
ever tell the reader ahead of time what he should expect to hear about 
his condition before God. If he does not find himself in the terrible 
dilemma of standing condemned and forgiven by God at the same time, 
he may conclude that he has misunderstood the Scriptures. Luther in 
understanding Hebrews as providing no salvation for those who had 
fallen into sin rejected it from the canon. This was a radical decision on 
his part that might have been resolved by a reexamination of the peri- 
cope in question, but it does demonstrate the seriousness in which he 
understood the law and the gospel. The same is true of his rejection of 
the Epistle of James, which he understood as teaching works as a way 
of salvation. 

As I have often said, the trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and an 
idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true God." Luther's Explana- 
tion to the First Catechism (Large Catechism; [Tappert, 365]). 

38 Robert D. Preus, "Hermeneutics of the Formula of Concord," No Other Gospel 
(ed. Arnold J. Koeplin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern, 1980), 330-32. The law 
and the gospel are "used to counter false and unevangelical practices which undermine 
the gospel, to combat rationalist or legalistic exegeses, and positively to offer a setting 
for the presentation of articles of faith." 

39 The Formula of Concord V claims that the law and gospel are to be used in un- 
derstanding the Scriptures. "The distinction between law and Gospel is an especially 
brilliant light which serves the purpose that the Word of God may be rightly divided and 
the writings of the holy prophets and apostles may be explained and understood cor- 
rectly" (Tappert, 558). 

40 For a critical appraisal of Luther's view on James, see my James the Apostle of 
Faith (St. Louis: Concordia, 1983). 


6. The Law and the Gospel as a Homiletical Devise 

Law and gospel must also be understood as the basic homiletical 
device in the church. The sermon must reflect the tension created by 
the God who condemns and redeems the Christian at the same time. The 
hearer must never be allowed to fall back on the laurels of his own moral- 
ity or spiritual accomplishments. The listener is pummeled continuously 
by the law and the gospel. Testimonies of spiritual greatness must be 
replaced by the proclamation of God's fulfilling of his own law in Christ 
and the freedom which is now given the Christian in Christ. The law and 
the gospel should be seen as the key to man's existential self-dilemma 
in understanding himself and his relationship to God. If the universal 
atonement means anything, it means that God had satisfied all of the 
law's requirements, its demands and penalties, in the person of God's 
Son, Jesus Christ. The law no longer can describe how God views man. 
The gospel can never be nullified. 42 The gospel is never conditional, 
since incarnation and atonement are permanent realities with God. Our 
moral and spiritual failures do not trigger a negative response in God so 
that he returns to the old covenant. The former agenda of penalty is not 
reinstated. This has been satisfied once and for all. For what reason is 
anyone now condemned, if the law is not in effect? A great condemnation 
awaits those who reject God's free gift in Christ. Under the covenant of 

41 The Formula of Concord V, "Law and Gospel," is set forth primarily as an arti- 
cle on the preaching of God's word (Tappert, 479-81). 

42 A document entitled, "The Condemnations of the Reformation Era: Do They 
Still Divide," was produced by Lutheran and Roman Catholic theologians with the sug- 
gestion that the historical division of the Reformation period was no longer applicable. 
The theological faculty of the University of Goettingen responded negatively. A subsec- 
tion of the opinion entitled "Justification," demonstrates how Lutheran theology is de- 
pendent on the law-gospel distinction, especially in its understanding of justification. See 
The Lutheran Quarterly 5 (Spring 1991) 1:15-30. The following is the classical Luthe- 
ran position. "Thereby his being justified, which he is in God's judgment, stands in con- 
tradiction to his experience of himself, according to which he can know himself only as 
sinner as long as he lives. He is always both at the same time: justified in his relationship 
to God and sinner according to his quality {siml iustus et peccator). In Christ the be- 
liever is separated from his sin, so that he can pray daily for forgiveness of persistent 
sins" (17). 

43 At the Midwestern Evangelical Theological Meeting at Grace Seminary, Winona 
Lake, Indiana, March 20-21, 1992, it became evident that the law-gospel distinction, in 
precisely this order was characteristic of Lutheran theology and not other traditions 
which either reverse the process or see a gospel-law-gospel distinction or which over- 
look the category. To show the importance of this category in Lutheran theology, the 
Formula of Concord V condemns any confusion on this article. "Hence we reject and 
deem it as false and detrimental when men teach that the Gospel, strictly speaking, is a 
proclamation of conviction and reproof and not exclusively a proclamation of grace. 
Thereby the Gospel is again changed into a teaching of the law, the merit of Christ and 
the Holy Scriptures are obscured, Christians are robbed of their true comfort, and the 
doors are again open to the papacy" (Tappert, 479). 


the law, we failed to do what God required. Those who reject the gospel 
have not failed to fulfill a requirement, that would make the gospel only 
another law, they have rejected what God has freely done. Sinners are 
accepted by Christ. Those who reject him are not. 

Two sayings are attributed to Luther. He promised a doctor's cap to 
any one who could rightly distinguish between the law and the gospel. 44 
Even theologians who can dogmatically distinguish between them can- 
not preach it. The other has to do with good works. The Christian does 
not need the motivation of the law simply because he is so busy doing 
good works. Still the motivation of the law is there, but not law as 
demand, punishment, and reward, but law as fulfilled in Christ. 45 In 
spite of the terrible spiritual agony Luther experienced as long as he 
lived, he was not a dour, gloomy or sullen person, as some other reform- 
ers were reputed to be. Quite to the contrary he never overcame some of 
his crude peasant speech, which today would be looked upon by some 
as signs of an unsanctified life. When faced with his own greatness, he 
said that God brought about the Reformation while he and Melanchthon 
drank beer. He was annoyed with Melanchthon's obsession with minor 
sins and urged him to do something really sinful: "sin boldly." As a 
hymn writer, where the brine of the middle ages merged with the sweet 
waters of the Reformation, Luther was unmatched. He spoke about the 
Christian merrily going about his business and doing good. The law and 
the gospel is the secret to understanding Luther. No longer is my chief 
concern restraining from moral evil and then coming to the conclusion 
that I have lived a sanctified life and thus triumphed. Christians are 
never free from sin, but they are so busy doing good, that even when 
they fall into sin as they do good, this is all covered by grace. 

^"Now him who is adept at this art of properly dividing Law and Gospel set at the 
head of the table and declare him a Doctor of the Holy Scriptures." St. Louis Edition 
IX:802. Quoted from Pieper III, 242. 

45 Formula of Concord VI:5 (Tappert 564). See also Pieper, III, 237. 

46 For a discussion of just this point see my James, the Apostle of Faith, (St. Louis: 
Concordia, 1983) 66-9, esp. 67. "The Law has been fulfilled not through a divine sover- 
eign act of arbitrary abrogations but by Christ's satisfying the divine requirements of the 
Law with its demands. Thus the Law is not presented to the Christian with its demands 
only, but also with the fulfillment of these demands. To the non-Christian the Law ap- 
pears revealing the wrath of God because he has not yet recognized Christ as the Law's 
perfect answer." The reader may wish to consult my "Theses on Law and Gospel," 
Springfielder 37 (June 1973) 53-63. 

Grace Theological Journal 12.1 (1991) 179-188 


Donald G. Bloesch 


The term "Reformed" has become almost as ambiguous as "evan- 
gelical," but I am using it in a very specific sense. First it means 
anchored in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. To be 
Reformed means to claim the legacy of Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, Bucer, 
and Bullinger. But Reformed people also acknowledge their indebted- 
ness to Luther and Melanchthon, both of whom spearheaded the Luth- 
eran Reformation. It should be kept in mind that Calvin signed one of 
the editions of the Augsburg Confession. In the old Evangelical Synod 
of North America, the church of my childhood, the guiding standards 
of faith were the Augsburg Confession, Luther's Small Catechism, and 
the Heidelberg Catechism. These remained confessional standards in 
the Evangelical and Reformed church, which came into existence in 
1934 (now part of the United Church of Christ). 

A second meaning of Reformed is the willingness always to be 
reformed in light of the Word of God. Our creeds and theologies 
remain under the witness of holy Scripture and therefore may be cor- 
rected and amended on the basis of new insight gleaned from the Word 
of God. New creeds can be written as new heresies arise to challenge 
the faith once delivered to the saints. Both Calvin and Luther placed 
the Word of God above the testimonies of sacred tradition. 

Other theologians who have shaped the Reformed tradition and 
have influenced me personally in various ways are P. T. Forsyth, 
Charles Hodge, Karl Barth, Jacques Ellul, G. C. Berkouwer, Hendrikus 
Berkhof, and Reinhold Niebuhr. My principal mentors in this study are 
Barth, Calvin, and to a lesser extent Niebuhr. 


In Roman Catholicism the gospel is often pictured as a new law, 
one that fulfills the Mosaic law of Hebraic tradition. Christ is envis- 
aged as the eternal or final law of God. The teachings of Christ as well 


as the ministry and acts of Christ constitute the gospel as the fulfilled 
law of God. 

In Luther an antithesis is frequently drawn between the law and 
the gospel. The law is the hammer of God's judgment, which brings 
about conviction of sin. The gospel is the balm of God's mercy that 
assures us of divine forgiveness. Luther like Calvin also affirmed a 
political use of the law — to restrain our rapacity and thereby preserve 
us from injury in the order of creation. While Luther's emphasis was 
on the spiritual use — to drive us to an awareness of our helplessness 
and need for God, it is debatable whether he held that the law always 
accuses. For the person with a stricken conscience, he says, "sin assur- 
edly rules by the law, for no one loves the law by nature; and that is a 
great sin. Grace, however, makes the law dear to us, and then sin is no 
more there, and the law is no longer against us, but with us. 

For Calvin the principal use of the law is the ethical one — the law 
as a guide in the Christian life. He acknowledged that the law is also a 
tutor that leads one to Christ, but he was equally emphatic that the law 
is also a divinely-given standard that keeps us in conformity with the 
will of God as revealed in Christ. Calvin affirmed the basic continuity 
between law and gospel, though he did perceive the continuing tension 
between the letter of the law and the evangelical proclamation. 
According to him the law is always with the gospel rather than simply 
before the gospel. The right order is law-gospel-law. The law prepares 
us for faith in Christ, and the gospel then sends us back to the law 
enabling us to obey it in the spirit of love. Reinhold Niebuhr percep- 
tively observes that, unlike Luther, Calvin does not "believe that grace 
abrogates the law, for he does not think of sanctification as an ecstatic 
experience of love which transcends all law. He thinks of it rather as a 
rigorous obedience to law." 

In contradistinction to the mainstream of Reformation tradition, 
Karl Barth gives priority to the gospel in the determination of the con- 
tent of the law. If we are to understand the demand of the law rightly, 
we must first have been confronted by the promise of the gospel. Barth 
basically sees one use for the law — a spiritual-ethical use: the law 
directs us to the gospel and to service in the world in light of the gos- 
pel. Or to put it another way, the law leads us to faith in Christ and to 
obedience to Christ. The law thereby becomes a sign and witness of 
the gospel. The law is not the gospel, and the gospel is not the law, but 
the two are inseparable in constituting the one Word of God. 

'Luther, Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, trans. C. M. Jacobs. In Works of 
Martin Luther II (Phil.: A. J. Holman Co., 1932) 457. 

2 Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man II (NY: Charles Scribners, 


Not surprisingly, natural law is suspect in Barthian circles, where 
natural awareness of moral law is deemed insufficient to provide us 
with valid knowledge of God's will and purpose for human life. This is 
because of human sin, which distorts our perceptions of moral order in 
the universe and subverts the moral sense that is a gift of creation. 
Jacques Ellul, however, who more or less follows Barthian theology, 
makes a place for the fact of natural law as opposed to a theology of 
natural law. Despite human limitation and sin, all societies construct 
moral norms simply to preserve a semblance of justice and order. 
These moral norms attest the reality of a universal moral order, but 
they do not give a reliable account of this moral order. They neverthe- 
less play a secondary role in preserving social order, and societies are 
judged by God on how they live up to their own standards. 


Reformed theology affirms a polarity but not an antithesis between 
law and gospel. It is commonly said that the second face of the gospel 
is the law, and the second face of the law is the gospel. The gospel is 
the form of the law, and the law is the form of the gospel (Barth). A 
believer is not released from the imperatives of the law but is now 
obliged and empowered to obey these imperatives. In Reformed 
thought the person of faith stands "under grace but also under judg- 
ment, under the promise but also under the demand, under the gospel 
but also under the law." There is not a separation but a correlation 
between law and gospel. The antithesis is between the law of God as 
God intended and the human misunderstanding of the law, which is 
manifested in legalism and rigorism. 

In Reformed theology the law is a means to salvation — but only 
when united with the gospel. Psalm 19:7-8 is often cited: "The law of 
the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. . . . The commands of the Lord are 
radiant, giving light to the eyes" (NIV). The law saves by directing us to 
the gospel, by relaying the message of the gospel to us. The law by itself 
does not save but only condemns. It is when Christ speaks to us through 
the law, it is when we perceive the law through the lens of the gospel, 
that we are convicted of sin and assured by the promise of the gospel. 

Reformed theology takes strong exception to grounding ethics sim- 
ply in the spirit of love. With the Reformed fathers "ethics was grounded 
not upon love but upon obeying the commandments as God's command- 
ments. The Law keeps its place beside the Gospel as another, a second, 

See Jacques Ellul, The Theological Foundation of Law, trans. Marguerite Wieser 
(NY: Seabury, 1969). 

Karl Barth, The Gottingen Dogmatics: Instruction in the Christian Religion I, 
trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990) 195. 


reality, equally true and commanding and necessary because the one God 
stands behind both, because the one Holy Spirit imparts both to men." 5 

Calvin was insistent that the gospel too is a sword that slays. The 
gospel brings judgment as well as grace because it introduces us to the 
majesty and holiness of God as well as to his infinite mercy. Indeed, 
God's mercy can only be understood and appreciated in light of his 
severity toward human sin. 

In the mainstream of Reformed tradition there is one covenant — a 
covenant of grace, but it has two dimensions or stages, one of prepara- 
tion, the other of fulfillment. The covenant that God makes with His 
people in the Old Testament is a preparation for the covenant He con- 
summates in Christ. The Christian church is the new covenant form of 
the people of God. In Reformed history allusion was sometimes made 
to a covenant of works; this is best understood as the legalistic misun- 
derstanding of the covenant of God's grace. The covenant that God 
made with both Abraham and Moses is based on His unconditional and 
unmerited love, but this covenant is not fulfilled until its beneficiaries, 
the people of God, walk according to the way of holiness. 

Reformed theology is reluctant to suggest that the gospel abrogates 
the law. Romans 10:4 has often been a subject of controversy in the his- 
tory of Christian thought: "Christ is the end of the law so that there may 
be righteousness for everyone who believes" (NRSV). The word for 
end is telos, which generally signifies purpose or completion rather than 
termination. Yet in its immediate and wider context it can be seen as 
both termination and completion, 6 because Christ does bring an end to 
the law as an independent way to salvation. Christ is both the negation 
and fulfillment of the Mosaic law. Christ overthrows the law of sin and 
death in order to clear the way for the law of spirit and life (Rom 8:2). 

The law is overturned by the gospel, and yet a new imperative 
standing in continuity with the original divine imperative proceeds 
from the gospel. Reinhold Niebuhr recognizes that "a higher than the 
traditional law is implied in the gospel." Barth calls this the "law of 
grace" and the "law of freedom." It signifies the paradoxical unity of 
obligation and permission. 


Reformed theology readily acknowledges an abiding tension 
between love as law and love as grace. Love is both an obligation and 

5 Karl Barth, The Word of God and the Word of Man, trans. Douglas Horton 
(Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1978) 264. 

6 See James R. Edwards, Romans (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992) 

7 Reinhold Niebuhr, op. cit. 106. 


a gift that transcends the sense of duty. When we are liberated by the 
grace that comes to us through both law and gospel, we are only too 
happy to obey the imperatives of the law. As the Psalmist exclaims, "I 
shall run the course made known in your commandments, for you set 
free my heart" (119:32 REB). 

Reinhold Niebuhr, coopting a phrase from Nicolas Berdyaev, 
refers to the ethics of the gospel as "the morality beyond morality." 8 
Yet even here, Niebuhr says, law is not completely transcended. When 
we are freed from legal demands, we nonetheless set out on a new 
course of obedience — no longer to legal claims but to a holy person. 

This notion of the kingdom of God transcending the claims and 
codes of legal morality is also evident in Karl Barth: "The Kingdom of 
God has its beginning on the other side of the Cross, beyond all that is 
called 'religion' and 'life', beyond conservatism and radicalism, physics 
and metaphysics; on the other side of morals and of that which is 
beyond morality." 9 

What I am proposing is an ethics of divine command, but this is 
the divine command in unity with the divine promise. Love goes 
beyond the prescriptions of law, but at the same time love fulfills the 
imperative of law (cf. Matt 5:17; Rom 13:10). Love liberates us from 
the burden of the law and empowers us to keep the law. 

To reduce the Christian life to agape love (as Nygren does), is to 
disregard the claims of God's law upon the believing community. God 
is both love and holiness, and his law proceeds from both. Agape does 
not cancel the claims of nomos, but it places nomos on a new founda- 
tion. Agape is not simply sacrificial love but also holy love. Love leads 
us to respect the holy law of God as deserving of our fidelity and 
adherence. But now under grace we adhere not to make ourselves 
acceptable before God but to show our gratefulness for what God has 
already done for us in Jesus Christ. 

An ethics of the divine command is at the same time an ethics of 
grace. When we strive to obey the law of God we are making a witness 
to the gospel fact that salvation comes by grace and grace alone. We 
are justified and also sanctified only by grace because our works are 
invariably mixed with motives that are less than pure. Even as Chris- 
tians we sin in our morality as well as in our immorality. But we can 
proceed to do good works because, although inevitably falling short of 
God's glory, they are covered by the perfect righteousness of Christ 
and thus rendered pleasing in God's sight. 

Reinhold Niebuhr, Christian Realism and Political Problems (NY: Charles Scrib- 
ner's Sons, 1953) 164. 

9 Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, trans. Edwyn C. Hoskyns (NY: Oxford 
University Press, 1968) 159. 


As Christians we are still under the command of God, but this com- 
mand must now be seen as a permission as well. This paradoxical fact 
is attested in Matt 14:28-29. Peter asks to be commanded to come to 
Jesus in the water, and Jesus says "Come." The command of our Lord 
fulfills the innermost yearnings of our being and sets our will free to act 
according to both God's perfect will and our deepest existential need. 


Reformed theology has always endeavored to tie the gift of God's 
unfathomable grace with the call to discipleship under the cross. If 
grace is not united with discipleship it becomes cheap. Just as grace 
cost God the life of his own Son, so it must also cost us our lives — our 
reputations, our self-esteem, sometimes even our health — in the ser- 
vice of the gospel. 

The gospel is an evangelical indicative, but an indicative that 
implies an imperative. This inseparability is seen in Mark 2:1-12 
where Jesus heals the paralytic: "Your sins are forgiven" and "Stand 
up and take your mat and walk" (NRSV). Which is law and which is 
gospel? They both announce the good news, but a command is also 

As Christians we are enjoined to be rich in good works (I Tim 
6: 17-19), but our motivation is not to make ourselves acceptable before 
God or to earn the favor of God. The Heidelberg Catechism rightly 
reminds us that our commitment to a life of service is to be based on 
gratitude for what God has already done for us in Jesus Christ. And 
there are other biblical motivations for following Christ: the fear of 
God, the love of God, and the desire to glorify God. Paul confessed that 
it is "the loVe of Christ" that "urges us on" (2 Cor 5:14 NRSV). 

In delineating the rationale for the Christian life we should heed 
seriously the biblical dictum that being is prior to action. We must be 
in Christ before we can act in harmony with his will. This truth is 
underlined by Paul: "We have not ceased praying for you and asking 
that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual 
wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the 
Lord, fully pleasing to him" (Col 1:9, 10 NRSV). Jesus makes this 
same point when he contends that good fruit can only come from a 
good tree (Luke 6:43-45). Once we are converted into salt and light by 
God's grace we must sprinkle our salt and let our light shine before 
others so that they may see our good works and give glory to our 
Father in heaven (Matt 5:14, 16 NRSV). 

Reformed theology emphasizes the need not only for faith but also 
for obedience. Faith does not simply produce obedience but encom- 
passes obedience. Barth makes this very clear: "There has to be a rec- 


ognition, an acceptance, an acknowledgment, a respecting, a bowing 
down. This is why there has to be knowledge and action, not just sink- 
ing and vanishing, not just stillness and passivity, not just a 'feeling of 
absolute dependence." 

To preach grace without sounding the call to holiness is to settle 
for a truncated gospel. The whole counsel of God embraces both the 
divine promise of unmerited grace and the divine mandate to live out a 
vocation to service and holiness. We preach the gospel to comfort the 
afflicted and the law to afflict the comfortable (Luther). But we also 
preach both law and gospel to challenge the forgiven sinner to lead a 
life that redounds to the glory of God. 


The ultimate criterion for Christian faith is the gospel-law or the 
law-gospel. I affirm the chronological priority of the law of God on the 
plane of history (cf. John 1:17) but the ontological priority of the gos- 
pel (cf. John 1:3-5, 9). God's grace precedes God's commandment and 
also empowers us to fulfill what is commanded. Augustine put this 
very tersely: "Give what you command, and command what you will." 

The gospel-law is the divine commandment in its unity with the 
divine promise. It is not a universal principle nor a narrative but an 
event. It is a word of personal address that comes to us through the 
witness of Scripture and church tradition. 

I uphold a divine command ethic over the justice-love ethic 11 now 
being promulgated in mainline churches. The latter confounds the 
rational search for justice with the concrete will of the almighty God. 
It denies the disjunction between human justice and agape — the sacrifi- 
cial, paradoxical love of the cross. It also ignores the infinite qualita- 
tive distinction between human virtue and divine holiness. 

There is no law of creation proceeding to the gospel of redemption 
(as Braaten, Tillich, Pannenberg claim), but there is a law of creation 
illumined by the gospel of redemption. The universal moral law does not 
furnish a point of contact with the gospel of free grace, but this gospel 
opens our eyes to the reality of a moral order imbedded in the cosmos. 

I affirm one covenant of grace that unites both Old and New Tes- 
taments, prophetic and apostolic history. The grace of God revealed in 
Christ is a new form of the old covenant made with Abraham and then 
with Moses. Some Reformed theologians of the past have even recog- 
nized a covenant of grace before history, an "eternal pact between the 

10 Gottingen Dogmatics, 180. 

n See Presbyterians and Human Sexuality 1991 (Louisville: Office of the General 
Assembly, Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.], 1991). 


Father and the Son whereby the Father commissioned the Son to be the 
Savior and gave him a people." 12 

I acknowledge that there are dangers in the gospel-law order as 
well as in the law-gospel order. The law must not be reduced simply to 
a dimension of the gospel. Nor does the law by itself prepare the way 
for the reception of the gospel. Even Karl Barth, who is convinced of 
the inseparability of law and gospel, nevertheless insists that there is 

i o 

an infinite distance between them. The law is a tutor that leads us to 
the gospel but only because grace infuses the law and illumines it. The 
law is not an independent propadeutic to the gospel; yet as the righ- 
teous hand of God it leads us to the gospel but only in the power of the 
grace that comes from the gospel. 

Again, I wish to affirm the priority of grace over works, the divine 
promise over the divine command, the truth of the gospel over the pre- 
scriptions of the law. The Decalogue itself begins with the announce- 
ment of grace: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the 
land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other 
gods before me" (Exod 20:2-3 NRSV). The command follows the dec- 
laration of God's mercy. 

The commandments in the Bible, particularly the Decalogue and 
the Sermon on the Mount, should be regarded as road signs that set us 
on the straight and narrow way. But we should remember that it is only 
Christ who gives us the power and vision to walk according to the road 
signs. It is only in the light of Christ that we are enabled to appreciate 
the full meaning of the road signs, particularly as they bear on our 
lives in the here and now. 

The implications of the gospel-law order are many. Apologetics is 
not to precede dogmatics but is to be fully incorporated in the dog- 
matic task. Faith does not stand alone but produces a life of obedience. 
Repentance is not prior to faith as its logical ground but flows out from 
faith. In our preaching we do not first try to drive people into a con- 
sciousness of sin through the use of the law, but we call people to 
repentance on the basis of both law and gospel. In pastoral care self- 
knowledge does not come before God-knowledge, but we know our- 
selves only in the light of God's incomparable mercy revealed in the 
cross of Christ. The meaning of the cross precedes and undergirds the 
examination of the self. The assurance of pardon comes before as well 
as after the confession of sins. 

I think the most comprehensive order, the one that does most jus- 
tice to the entire biblical witness, is gospel-law-gospel. We are awak- 

See M. Eugene Osterhaven, "Covenant" in Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith, 
Donald K. McKim, ed. (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), [pp. 84-87] 85. 
13 Karl Barth, Community, State and Church (NY: Doubleday, 1960) 81. 


ened to the seriousness of the law and the gravity of our sins when we 
hear the gospel of free grace through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus 
Christ on the cross. The gospel then directs us to the law as a guide for 
the Christian life. But in reminding us of our sin the law sends us back 
to the gospel for the grace and consolation it provides. The divine 
promise precedes the commandment, but the commandment in turn 
precedes the fulfillment of the promise. 

Grace Theological Journal 12.2 (1991) 189-214 


W. R. Estep 


There are two problems with this topic which must be admitted at the 
outset. The terms "Law" and "Gospel" do not occur frequently in 
either Anabaptist works that could be properly termed theological or in 
Anabaptist confessions of faith. This is also true of Baptist confessions 
in general and of major theologians among the Baptists in particular. 

The second problem relates to the use of the terms Anabaptist and 
Baptist. While there is an historical connection between Anabaptists at 
the sixteenth century and the emerging Baptist movement in the seven- 
teenth century, one should not confuse the two movements or fail to 
distinguish between the two. Even though the relationship is still a 
matter of debate among church historians, it is generally conceded that 
the Anabaptists first arose within the context of the Swiss Reformation 
in the sixteenth century, whereas, the Baptists arose out of the English 
Puritan-Separatist movements in contact with and under the influence 
of the Dutch Mennonites. 

In spite of these distinctions, it must also be admitted that the Ana- 
baptists and early English Baptists shared a similar theological, ecclesi- 
ological, and ethical stance, so much so that the topic can be treated 
without doing a disservice to scholarship or the differing traditions of 
Anabaptist and Baptist life. Therefore, we will frequently use the terms 
"Law" and "Gospel" as apparently both Anabaptists and Baptists used 
them in a general sense and more narrowly in a particular sense, espe- 
cially in relationship to the accusatory or revelatory function of the Law. 

Emil Brunner in The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemp- 
tion and Revelation and Reason delineates seven uses of the concept 
of Law in the Scriptures. 1 Of these, the Anabaptist and Baptist usages 

Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, 214-30, and 
Revelation and Reason, 332. Cited by James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology: Biblical, 
Historical, and Evangelical, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing 
Company, 1990) 500-501. 


refer most frequently to the Mosaic Law and less so to the Moral Law. 
With the Anabaptists, particularly, the term "Law" is frequently sub- 
sumed under the Old Testament or the Old Covenant. 

In an attempt to seek an understanding of both variations and the 
commonality of these concepts in Anabaptist/Baptist traditions, we 
will first look at four representative Anabaptist theologians. Second, 
we will turn our attention to the use of the concepts Law and Gospel as 
reflected in major Baptist confessions, and third, as understood by 
some twentieth century Baptist theologians. 


Balthasar Hubmaier 

Balthasar Hubmaier became the first writing theologian among the 
Anabaptists. He was educated first in the cathedral school at Augsburg 
and later received the Bachelor of Arts degree after only one year's 
study in the university, and his bacca laureus biblicus from the Uni- 
versity of Freiburg in Breisgau, where he also became the successor of 
Johannes Eck as rector of the Pfauenburse. In October, 1512, he joined 
Eck at the University of Ingolstadt where he received his doctorate in 
theology. He eventually became the vice-rector of the university, 
which position he vacated to become the cathedral preacher at the 
Cathedral of Regensburg. From Regensburg he went to Waldshut 
where he became the head priest in a small chapter consisting of ten 
priests. It was here that he had time to read the Scriptures carefully for 
the first time. In addition to Latin, he had acquired a knowledge of 
both Greek and Hebrew. Apparently in 1522, he committed his life to 
Christ, for he wrote some friends at Regensburg: 

Within two years has Christ for the first time come into my heart to thrive. 
I have never dared to preach him so boldly as now, by the grace of God. 
I lament before God that I so long lay ill of this sickness. I pray him truly 
for pardon; I did this unwittingly, wherefore I write this. I wonder if your 
preachers now will say, I am now of another disposition than formerly, 
that I confess and condemn all doctrine and preaching, such as were mine 
among you and elsewhere, that is not grounded in the divine word. 2 

He attended the second major disputation in Zurich in October, 
1523, and later recalled having talked with Zwingli about believers' 
baptism at that time. By April, 1525, he was baptized by William 
Reublin, and a week later, Hubmaier baptized most of the members of 

2 Cited in Henry C. Vedder, Balthasar Hiibmaier: The Leader of the Anabaptists 
(New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1905) 78. 


his church. However, before the end of the year, he and his wife were 
driven from Waldshut by the invading forces of Austria. After being 
imprisoned and tortured in Zurich, he left Switzerland for Moravia. 
Here his ministry was blessed by thousands of baptisms but the notori- 
ety gained spelled his doom at the hands of Archduke Ferdinand. After 
imprisonment and torture in the Kreuzenstein Castle, he was burned to 
death as a heretic in Vienna on 10 March 1528. However, from 1524 to 
1528, he was able to write at least nineteen pamphlets and booklets on 
various topics. In his work On the Christian Baptism of Believers, he 
briefly discusses the contrast between the Law and the Gospel. In ref- 
erence to John's ministry he wrote, 

So it is with Christ. He has to speak to us, or his messengers in his 
place; then we are made whole in our souls. Believed forgiveness of sins 
is the true gospel which cannot be without the Spirit of God, for the 
Spirit of God makes the Word alive. Faith is a work of God, John 6:29. 
For by faith the law of sin and of death becomes a law of the Spirit, Ro- 
mans 8:2. For what was impossible to the law, God has fulfilled through 
Jesus Christ so that the righteousness demanded by the law might be 
fulfilled in us who now walk not according to the flesh but according to 
the Spirit. 3 

In this quotation, it is interesting to note that the revelatory nature of 
the "law of sin and death becomes a law of the Spirit." Romans 8:2 is 
cited. "For what was impossible to the law," Hubmaier says, "God has 
fulfilled through Jesus Christ," which apparently means that the word 
of promise in the law has been honored in Christ. Although God has 
fulfilled the Law through Jesus Christ, this does not, in Hubmaier's 
opinion, release the Christian to live a wanton life of sin, but, instead, 
makes possible a righteousness that the Law demands. Or, as Hub- 
maier says, "might be fulfilled in us who now walk not according to 
the flesh but according to the Spirit." Therefore, intrinsic in Hub- 
maier's understanding of the Law is discipleship. 

Hans Denck 

Hans Denck was one of the most gifted of the early Anabaptist 
theologians. At the same time he was perhaps the most controversial. 
He graduated from the University of Ingolstadt in 1519 and soon 
proved himself an able linguist, proficient in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. 
For a time he taught in St. Sebald's School in Nuremberg from which he 
was banished due to his heretical opinions on baptism and the Lord's 

3 Balthasar Hubmaier, On the Christian Baptism of Believers, in Balthasar Hub- 
maier: Theologian of Anabaptism, trans, and ed. H. Wayne Pipkin and John H. Yoder 
(Scottdale, Penn.: Herald Press, 1989) 106. 


Supper, as well as a number of other topics. In 1526 he was apparently 
baptized in Augsburg by Hubmaier who was en route from Zurich to 
Moravia. His personal acquaintance with Hubmaier probably dated 
from student days at Ingolstadt or later when Hubmaier returned to 
Regensburg in 1522, Denck could hardly have avoided hearing him 
preach from the Gospel of Luke in the Chapel of the Beautiful Maria. 

Denck's theological development, although apparently influenced 
by Hubmaier, was uniquely his own. He had a deep appreciation for 
the Old Testament and, therefore, he and Ludwig Haetzer made the 
first translation of the Hebrew prophets into German at Worms in the 
summer of 1527. In spite of Osiander's attempt to suppress it, the origi- 
nal edition was reprinted ten times and was used by both Zwingli 
(1529) and Luther (1532). 4 Denck also attempted to witness to the 
various Jewish communities in the Rhine River valley. His knowledge 
of the Torah and the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, coupled with 
his understanding of Christianity as primarily discipleship (Nachfolge 
Christi) led him to address what he considered a Lutheran misconcep- 
tion of the Law in the only major Anabaptist work on the subject. In 
response to Luther's De Servo Arbitrio, Denck wrote his Vom Gesatz 
Gottes with the subtitle How the Law is Made Void and Yet Must be 
Brought to Fulfillment. Doubtless Denck's own experience with the 
Lutheran establishment in Nuremberg and his observations regarding 
the failure of the Lutheran movement to produce a transformation of 
life in its followers, motivated him to deal with the subject in the light 
of his own understanding of the Law, discipleship, and spirituality. 

Denck says in Concerning the Law of God (Vom Gesatz Gottes) 
that he has been compelled to write this treatise because of "half- 
truths" that some had been led to accept for one reason or another. He 
charges that the whole world confesses Christ with their lips but deny 
him with their lives. This, he claims, is based upon the notion that 
Christ has fulfilled the Law and therefore the Christian is delivered 
from it. However, he quotes Matthew 5:17 to support his position that 
even though Christ has fulfilled the Law, this does not mean that Chris- 
tians are under no obligation to live exemplary lives just as Christ him- 
self lived. That this is needed can be seen, Denck says, because "the 
whole world is full of such people whose fruit and life were better 

4 Clarence Bauman, The Spiritual Legacy of Hans Denck: Interpretation and 
Translation of Key Texts (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991) 16. See also Georg Baring, Hans 
Denck Schriften, Quellen zur Geschichte der Taufer VI (Gutersloh: C. Bertelsmann Ver- 
lag, 1955) 33, 34. 

5 The "half-truth" that both Hubmaier and Denck criticized severely was the idea of 
cheap "believism" that envisioned that faith (assensus) alone was sufficient in the Chris- 
tian life while ignoring the demands of discipleship, which is the evidence of the new 
birth that comes about as a result of a faith commitment to Christ as Lord. 


before they boasted of faith than thereafter." 6 He puts much emphasis 
upon the dynamics of the new birth, for, Denck points out, the new man 
in Christ Jesus is under the compulsion of love to live the Christian life. 

No one can satisfy the Law who does not truly know and love Christ. 
Whoever fulfills the Law through him has merit but not credit before 
God, for all honor belongs to God through whose grace a way is given 
which [previously] was impossible for the whole world. Therefore, merit 
does not belong to man but to Christ, through whom everything one has 
is given by God. But, whoever seeks glory in His merit as if it were his 
own doing, surely destroys grace through Christ. Whoever says one need 
not keep the law makes a liar of God, who gave it in order that one 
should keep it, as all Scriptures testifies. 7 

Denck claims that this rather paradoxical idea of the Christian who is 
still under the Law while Christ has satisfied its requirements and, 
therefore, fulfilled the Law, is explained by the work of the Holy Spirit 
in the Christian's life. 

Whoever has received the new covenant of God, that is, in whose heart 
the Law was written through the Holy Spirit, is truly righteous. Whoever 
supposes he will accomplish keeping the Law through the book, ascribes 
to the dead letter what belongs to living Spirit. 8 

In Denck's theology Law and Gospel are both expressions of the grace 
of God. Just as one proclaims God's wrath he also must proclaim his 
grace. Denck divides Law into three divisions: commandments, cus- 
toms, and rights. Commandments are those that flow solely from the 
love of God and neighbor. Customs are social ordinances which 
include ceremonies or signs but when without meaning, they simply 
become a mockery. Rights are civil (legal) laws. One fulfills all three 
aspects of the Law through love. 

But the one who acts contrary to love can excuse himself neither with 
divine nor human law, for all laws should give way to love since they 
are for the sake of love and not love for their sake. They are unable to 
produce love, so they also should not hinder it. Love produces all laws, 
therefore it can withdraw them all again, each according to its juncture. 9 

Denck writes in one of his more paradoxical statements, "All command- 
ments, customs, and rights, insofar as they are scripturally compiled in 

Hans Denck, Concerning the Law of God, in The Spiritual Legacy of Hans Denck, 
trans. Clarence Bauman, 131. 
7 Ibid., 141, 143. 
8 Ibid., 145. 
9 Ibid., 155. 


the Old and New Testaments, are annulled for the true disciple of Christ, 
that is, he has inscribed in his heart one word, namely, that he loves God 
alone." 10 Denck concludes his treatise with these words that approxi- 
mate Paul's dictum that love is the fulfilling of the Law. "Whoever is 
born of God will bear witness to the truth. Whoever rejects it will also 
be rejected by God. Cursed be the one who does not truly love God and 
does not keep his commandments." 11 

The antinomianism that Denck saw in Luther's teachings and in 
what he considered the unreformed lives of Luther's followers, he 
declared was a perversion of the Gospel due to a misunderstanding of 
Christ's fulfillment of the requirements of the Law. Bauman summa- 
rizes Denck's position when he writes: "Denck holds that the letter of 
the Law is transcended in that its intention is internalized and becomes 
the rule of Christ within through the power of the Spirit." 12 And that 
rule of Christ, I would add, is agape. 

Pilgram Marpeck 

Pilgram Marpeck, an almost forgotten Anabaptist theologian, has 
been the subject of a number of recent studies. John Kiwiet has written 
that Marpeck was the only theologian to give Anabaptism a thorough- 
going, systematic theology. Marpeck was not formally trained in theol- 
ogy but had a good education and apparently a knowledge of Latin. 
However, his voluminous theological works were written in German. 

Marpeck was born at Rattenberg on the Inn River in the Tirol of 
Austria. He apparently was from a wealthy and outstanding family in 
the area. On February 26, 1520, he and his wife joined a guild of min- 
ing workers of Rattenberg. Three years later he was a member of the 
Lower Council and two years afterwards became a member of the 
Upper Council. This was the same year in which he was appointed a 
mining magistrate, whose function was to supervise the mining of sil- 
ver in the area. He apparently was first attracted to the Reformation 
through the work of Luther, but along with others in the Inn Valley, he 
was subsequently drawn to the Anabaptist movement. Leonhard Schie- 
mer, an Anabaptist evangelist, arrived in Rattenberg on November 25, 
1527 and a day after his arrival was arrested and later beheaded on 
January 14, 1528. Two weeks later, Marpeck resigned his position as 
mining magistrate. 13 Marpeck's resignation was doubtless due to his 

10 Ibid., 153. 

"ibid., 159. 

12 Clarence Bauman, The Spiritual Legacy of Hans Denck, 12. 

13 William Klassen and Walter Klaassen, The Writings of Pilgram Marpeck, Clas- 
sics of the Radical Reformation series (Scottdale, Penn.: Herald Press, 1978) 18. Two 
different dates are given for Schiemer's death. Page 18 gives it as January 14 and page 
20 indicates it was on January 15. 


Anabaptist convictions. He had been instructed to apprehend Anabap- 
tists and turn them over to the civil authorities for trial and punishment. 
This he refused to do. If he had not been such a prominent man he 
doubtless would have been executed along with many other martyrs in 
the Inn Valley. As it was, his property was confiscated and the orphan 
children, that he and his wife had adopted, were taken from him and he 
became, "a wandering pilgrim under the heavens." He left his native 
Austria for Strasbourg, a city known for its tolerance of divergent reli- 
gious views. Here he was employed as a city engineer in the course of 
which he built a water system for the city and wood-floating flumes in 
the surrounding valleys which enabled Strasbourg to reap a harvest of 
wood from the forests along the Kinzig River. 

In Strasbourg he soon became the leader among the Anabaptists of 
the city and entered into a running debate with Caspar Schwenckfeld. 
By 1532 he had become so prominent that Bucer and Capito felt his 
influence was a threat to the religious monopoly of the city. This led to 
Marpeck's imprisonment and subsequent prison manuscript, his confes- 
sion of faith. In this confession he set forth in twenty-nine articles his 
understanding of the Anabaptist faith in the light of the hermeneutics 
which he developed in an attempt to understand the relationships of the 
Old and New Testaments. During the next several years he wrote very 
little, aside from letters, but apparently was not inactive in sharing his 
faith with others in Switzerland, Moravia, and elsewhere. From 1545 to 
1556, he was employed by the City of Augsburg, where he did for the 
city what he had done for Strasbourg. He died in 1556 of natural causes. 

Whether Marpeck was familiar with the Latin language, as Harold 
Bender held, or whether he only used some Latin phrases in his works 
as Klassen and Klaassen suppose, there is no doubt that he was an 
unusually gifted layman and an able theologian in his own right. This 
is certainly evident in his biblical hermeneutics in which he treats the 
relationship of the Law and Gospel. 

Law and Gospel are discussed within the context of the dichotomy 
that Marpeck draws between the Old and New Testaments. This, too, is 
derived from his understanding of the covenants. He holds that God 
seeks to impart his revelation to man in terms of covenants. The first was 
the covenant with Adam, the second with Noah, and the third with Abra- 
ham. The first with Adam gave what he calls a schema aller spdteren 
Bundesverhdltnisse (a plan of all later covenant conditions). 15 After the 
Abrahamic covenant, which was marked by the sign of circumcision, 
there came the Mosaic law. After Moses, still another covenant was 

14 Ibid., 129. 
Jan J. Kiwiet, Pilgram Marbeck: Ein Ftihrer in der Tauferbewegung der Refor- 
mationszeit (Kassel: J. G. Oncken Verlag, 1957) 93. 


made with David, in which is found the promise of the coming of the 
Son of God. 16 

The advent of Christ ushered in the New Covenant or New Testa- 
ment. Marpeck holds that there is an absolute difference between the 
Old and the New Testaments. The Old is dufierlich (outer) and the 
New is innerlich (inner). He explains the covenant with Adam 
demanded an external obedience but the New Testament requires an 
inner obedience which is spiritual. He points out, "in Christus haben 
die Kinder Gottes schon die geistliche Auferstehung, auf die die leibli- 
che Auferstehung spdter folgen wird." He sees this new spiritual life 
as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, where God has promised 
to write an inner covenant with his people on their hearts. Another 
contrasting pair of terms in the Old Testament is zeitlich (temporal) 
and the New Covenant is ewig (eternal). He explains that the eternal 
life which belonged to Adam and Eve before the fall was lost but 
through the resurrection, Christ has brought it back again. While the 
Old Testament carried with it the necessity of faith and hope, this faith 
was that of the natural man, that is, unregenerate man. It surely was 
not a true spiritual faith which comes only through "die Wiedergeburt 
vom Heiligen Geist. Again, the contrasting terms are Figur (type) 
and We sen (essence). He finds Christ, the church, and the Kingdom of 
God all prefigured in the Old Testament. 

The fourth contrast is that of Knechtschaft (slavery) and Kindschaft 
(sonship). In the fifth place, the contrast is drawn between sin and for- 
giveness, death and deliverance. In the discussion of sins and forgive- 
ness, Marpeck introduces his understanding of the role of the Law which 
brings the knowledge of sin. He says the Law, the ten commandments, 
the ceremonial commandments, priestly service, and the system of sac- 
rifices, were all necessary because of sin. Sin was a reality from the time 
of Adam, but when the Law came, the knowledge of sin became a real- 
ity. For Moses, mankind had a natural knowledge of good and evil, 
which is even true today. Through the Law came the consciousness of 
the nature of sin as transgression against God. This is the beginning of 
repentance for sin is in one's own heart. Sin and death reigned after 
Moses until Christ. With the Bundesvolkes (the people's covenant) the 
time of forgiveness and deliverance has come. Marpeck in the sixth 
place, speaks of the law as a time of Unwissenheit (hiddenness) as over 
against Offenbarung (revelation) of God in Christ which made possible 
a knowledge of God in his eternal essence. This personal knowledge of 

l6 "SchlieJ5lich wurde noch ein Bund mit David errichtet mit der Verheifiung des 
kommenden Gottessohnes." Cited in Kiwiet, Pilgram Marbeck, 93. 

"Ibid., 95. 
18 Ibid., 96. 

Auch das Volk Israel war ein Bild des neuen Gottesvolkes." Ibid., 97. 


God is the acceptance by faith of the love of God revealed and offered 
to us in Christ. This is the knowledge that leads to eternal life. 

In using the term "Law," Marpeck frequently means the Old Tes- 
tament itself, which is never more than promise which finds its fulfill- 
ment only in the New Testament. The Old Testament is yesterday and 
the New, today. The Old Testament is prologue (vorbeigegangen); the 
New is that which has come. "Therefore, the right order of teaching is 
that God has allowed the Law to precede Christ in order to show 
clearly the nature of sin and its fruits." 

The primary function of the Mosaic Law was condemnatory, to 
intensify a consciousness of sin against God. Marpeck also held that 
the Law not only revealed sin and recalled sin to memory, but pro- 
voked sin, and therefore increased the knowledge of sin. This, of 
course, is the action of a gracious God. Hence, the Law should be 
understood as the "first grace." 22 Like Luther, Marpeck held that the 
Law must first bring conviction for sin before the Gospel can bring its 
forgiveness and healing. Before the coming of Christ, Marpeck held, 
man could not experience full forgiveness of sins. He could only be 
comforted by using the ceremonies that God had ordained for that pur- 
pose in the Old Covenant. 

In summary, Marpeck held the Law was necessary to bring a con- 
sciousness of sin as transgression against God. But the Law was not 
salvific. However, it did serve the purpose of pointing mankind to 
Christ. The final covenant of God with his people, was a covenant 
sealed with the blood of the incarnate Christ, who alone is the full and 
final revelation of God, In Marpeck we see covenants in ascending cir- 
cles, from Adam to Christ. This is in a sense a progressive, holy his- 
tory of God's dealings with mankind, of which the Law was an integral 
part, and necessary to bring an acute awareness of the nature and depth 
of man's sin. It was not simply sin in the abstract or an inherited sinful 
nature, the sin uncovered by the Law as sin against God. For this, 
there is only one hope, and that is Jesus Christ, "the living power of 
God," who fulfilled the Law and made possible the new birth. 24 

20 Ibid., 101. 

21 Klassen and Klaassen, Writings of Pilgram Marpeck, 123. 

22 The first grace, which is the Old Testament, has brought knowledge of sin; that 
is, the law was given through Moses, grace and truth through Christ. The first grace of 
the Old Testament, through which man received only knowledge of sin, also comes 
through Christ. And this first grace, as has been shown, was promised to Adam and Eve. 
Thus, from His fullness, we have all received grace and more grace, which is also a com- 
plete comfort to the godliness of faith, namely, the remission and forgiveness of sin. 
(Klassen and Klaassen, Writings of Pilgram Marpeck, 123.) 

23 Ibid., 121. 

24 For those who have been baptized by Christ with fire and Spirit know Christ and 
His people differently from the others. They know, to begin with, that Christ is the living 


In the abstract of the Confession of 1532, Marpeck links the Law 
and the Gospel very closely in articles 14 and 15. 

14. The Law demands circumcision for the one who believes it is a com- 
mandment and Law of God. God has implanted in them the knowledge 
of sin, death, and hell along with the hope to be saved from it. The pa- 
triarchs received this spirit of servitude from God. 

15. The Gospel of Christ, even Christ himself, the Messiah, for whom the 
ancients hoped, and awaited with long-suffering, brings with it, for the 
one who believes and is baptized, salvation, indulgence, and forgive- 
ness of sin and takes away all fear and imprisonment to sin, death, and 
hell. And it awakens, comforts and strengthens the broken hearted, giv- 
ing them strength and power to do the will of God. 

Menno Simons 

Menno Simons, like Hubmaier, was a priest before becoming an 
Anabaptist. He apparently received his theological education in one of 
the local monasteries. For some nine months he wrestled with the 
problems that his conversion presented as he attempted to continue his 
responsibilities as one of the priests serving the church in Witmarsun. 
Finally, after prayer and increasing conviction that he could no longer 
continue living a lie, he became an Anabaptist sometime in the year 
1536. For twenty-five years, although harassed and hounded as a fugi- 
tive from justice, he died of natural causes. His influence was so great 
that not long after his conversion and call into the ministry, he became 
the undisputed leader among the Dutch Anabaptists, they became 
known as Menists, or Menno's people. His numerous works were 
widely distributed. In his Reply to Gellius Faber, 1554, he addresses 
the role of the Law in one of the few places in his writings in which 
the subject is discussed. Faber, a Reformed minister, had admonished 
his people to be "well grounded in the Law and principally in the Holy 
Gospel." In response to this admonition, Menno writes, 

power of God, and the end of the law, for the sanctification of everyone that believes. 
They have the forgiveness of past sins, a certain comfort, security and rest through faith 
in Christ. Those who are thus baptized must be persons who have recognized their sin 
and inability in the law, just as the ancients and those who knew the law, as I have ex- 
plained earlier, knew that the law is given for those who can know and not for those who 
cannot (such as children or idiots, for whom there is no law either with man or God). For 
people who have thus been shattered, beaten, and broken by the law, Christ is the Physi- 
cian and Savior. All who know and recognize their sin can only then receive comfort and 
security. To this part of man's recognition and faith belongs the baptism of the apostolic 
church, and not to young children or the ignorant, who have no law or knowledge of sin 
even though they are under law and sin (ibid., 127). 

25 "Pilgram Marpeck's Confession of Faith" in Anabaptist Beginnings (1523- 
1533): A Sourcebook, ed. William R. Estep (Nieuwkoop: B. De Graaf, 1976) 166-67. 


This is the real function and end of law: to reveal unto us the will of God, 
to discover sin unto us, to threaten with the wrath and the punishment of 
the Lord, to announce death and to point us from it to Christ, so that we, 
crushed in Spirit, may before the eyes of God die unto sin, and seek and 
find the only and eternal medicine and remedy for our souls, Jesus Christ. 26 

Clearly in Anabaptist fashion, Menno's emphasis was not upon the 
Law, but upon the Gospel. He follows his treatment regarding the 
function of the Law with one on the Gospel, 

So also where the Gospel is preached in true zeal, according to the 
pleasure of God, and unblamably in the power of the Spirit, so that it 
penetrates the hearts of the hearers, there we find a converted, changed, 
and new mind, which joyfully and gratefully gives praises to its God for 
His inexpressibly great love toward us miserable sinners, in Christ Jesus, 
and thus it enters into newness of life willingly and voluntarily, by the 
power of a true faith and a new birth. 27 

In the next paragraph, it is clear that Menno's interest is in living 
the Christian life as a true disciple of Christ, which he calls, "entering 
into newness of life," with its implication of true repentance means 
that there is a new Law of Christian conduct that characterizes those 
who are born again. 

Obviously, Menno is not interested in the traditional juxtaposition 
of Law and Gospel or in making complicated what to him was trans- 
parently simple, the new life in Christ which is born of the Spirit. 

Summary of the Anabaptist Position on Law and Gospel 

Of the Anabaptists, Marpeck is closer to Luther's position although 
he extends the dichotomy between Law and Gospel to the "absolute 
Unterschied" between the Old and New Testaments. Hubmaier and 
Menno give very little attention to Law and Gospel as a paradigm or orga- 
nizing principle of theology. It is Denck whose major concern is to com- 
bat what he considered a half truth which would lead to antinomianism. 
However his final emphasis is upon the law written by the Holy Spirit on 
the heart of those which expresses itself in the higher law of love. 


General Baptists 

The first English Baptists arose in contact with the Dutch Anabap- 
tists who became known as Mennonites. An early schism occurred in 

Menno Simons, Reply to Gellius Faber, in The Complete Writings of Menno Si- 
mons: c. 1496-1561, ed. John Christian Wenger (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1956) 718. 
27 Wenger, Menno Simons, 718. 
28 Ibid. 


the "Ancient Church" of Francis Johnson (c. 1595) before he was able 
to join his congregation in Amsterdam which left England before him. 
However, there are no confessional statements from this group. The 
second group of English Separatists to become "Anabaptists" was that 
led by John Smyth from Gainsborough. After arriving in Amsterdam 
these new refugees adopted believers' baptism and a year or so later 
sought to unite with the Waterlander Mennonite Church. In the fore- 
front of this development was John Smyth, an M.A. graduate of Cam- 
bridge University and an ordained minister of the Church of England. 
By 1606, he led in the formation of a Separatist congregation in Gains- 
borough with a branch at Scrooby of which John Robinson became the 
pastor. Once in Amsterdam the Smyth-led church underwent some 
radical changes. Rejecting the covenant upon which basis the church 
was formed in Gainsborough, the church was reorganized upon the 
basis of that which they perceived to be the New Testament model of 
which baptism, upon personal confession of faith in Christ, became the 
initiatory act. Subsequently, when Smyth sought union with the Water- 
lander Mennonites, the church drew up its first confession of faith. 
However this proved unacceptable to the Mennonites, even though it 
indicates that already Smyth and his congregation had rejected the Cal- 
vinism that had characterized their Puritan-Separatist congregation 
before arriving in the Netherlands. 

A second confession of faith was then drawn up apparently in 
conference with Hans De Ries, a Mennonite pastor who like Smyth 
practiced medicine. This confession was largely an abbreviated form 
of the Waterlander Confession of 1580, but without the numerous 
Scriptural references of the earlier confession. As in the Waterlander 
Confession, the Old and New Testaments are juxtaposed. In referring 
to Christ and the Law, Article 10 declares: 

In him is fulfilled, and by him is taken away, an intolerable burden 
of the law of Moses, even all the shadows and figures; as, namely, the 
priesthood, temple, altar, sacrifice; also the kingly office, kingdom, 
sword, revenge appointed by the law, battle and whatsoever was a figure 
of his person or office, so thereof a shadow or representation. 29 

The eleventh article continues in much the same vein: 

And as the true promised Prophet he hath manifested and revealed 
unto us whatsoever God asketh or requireth of the people of the New 
Testament; for as God, by Moses and the other prophets, hath spoken 
and declared his will to the people of the Old Testament; so hath he in 
those last days, by his Prophet spoken unto us, and revealed unto us the 

John Smyth, Short Confessions of Faith in XX Articles by John Smyth, in Baptist 
Confessions of Faith by William L. Lumpkin (Chicago: The Judson Press, 1959) 105. 


mystery (concealed from the beginning of the world), and hath now 
manifested to us whatsoever yet remained to be manifested. 30 

From these two articles, it is clear that the signers of this confession, 
which included Smyth, and the forty-one of those who had sought refuge 
with him in the Netherlands, held that the Mosaic Law was a burden, 
which Christ had removed and replaced. This much is evident in several 
articles in the confession but particularly in Article 21 which reads: 

Man being thus justified by faith, liveth and worketh by love (which 
the Holy Ghost sheddeth into the heart) in all good works, in the laws, 
precepts, ordinances given them by God through Christ; he praiseth and 
blesseth God, by a holy life, for every benefit, especially of the soul; and 
so are all such plants of the Lord trees of righteousness, who honor God 
through good works, and expect a blessed reward. 31 

In this confession it is clear that the law of Moses was replaced by 
Christ, who fulfilled the Law. It is also quite evident that as with most 
Anabaptists, the Old Testament no longer had the force of the New 
Testament for the Christian. 

In a third confession brought out in 1612, the Smyth congregation 
reflects a further development of the understanding of the Law and its 
relationship to the Gospel. In Article 33 the confession declared, "for 
He [Christ] cancelled the handwriting of ordinances, the hatred, the 
law of commandments in ordinances (Eph. ii. 15; Colos. ii. 14) which 
was against us (Deut. xxxi. 26); . . . Echoes of Denck's concern for 
a consistent moral life is heard in Article 63 which declares that 
although Christ has fulfilled the Law, the Moral Law is still binding on 
the Christian. 

That the new creature although he be above the law and scriptures, 
yet he can do nothing against the law or scriptures, but rather all his do- 
ings shall serve to the confirming and establishing of the law (Rom iii. 
31). Therefore he cannot lie, nor steal, nor commit adultery, nor kill, nor 
hate any man, or do any other fleshly action, and therefore all fleshly lib- 
ertinism is contrary to regeneration, detestable, and damnable (John viii. 
34; Rom vi. 15, 16, 18; 2 Pet ii. 18, 19; I John v. 18). 33 

Previously Article 62 had presented the concept in a slightly different 
way. It declared that Christ is above the Law and the Christian is also 

30 ibid. 

31 Ibid., 108. 
Propositions and Conclusions concerning True Christian Religion, containing a 
Confession of Faith of certain English people, living at Amsterdam, in Lumpkin, Baptist 
Confessions, 129. 

33 Ibid., 136. 


above the law, but he is not to take this to mean that he should live a 
lawless life, for he is bound by a higher law. Article 68 further delin- 
eates the role of Law and Gospel for the Christian: 

That faith is a knowledge in the mind of the doctrine of the law and 
gospel contained in the prophetical, and apostolical scriptures of the Old 
and New Testament: accompanying repentance with an assurance that 
God, through Christ, will perform unto us His promises of remission of 
sins, and mortification, upon the condition of our unfeigned repentance, 
and amendment of life (Rom x. 13, 14, 15; Acts v. 30-32; and Acts ii. 
38, 39; Heb xi. I; Mark i. 15). 34 

It is not surprising that the General Baptists, as the followers of 
John Smyth and those of Thomas Helwys, who went back to England 
in 1612, were eventually known, reflect an essentially Anabaptist 
understanding of Law and Gospel. 

Particular Baptists 

Arising out of the Independent Puritan congregation of Henry Jes- 
sey in London, there emerged a Calvinistic Baptist movement. In a 
succession of schisms from the original Puritan conventical in 1633, 
1638, and finally in 1642, there were formed three churches which 
adopted believers' baptism by immersion and because they held that 
Christ died only for the elect, they became known by the end of the 
century as Particular Baptists. These three congregations by 1644 had 
become seven, and issued what is called the First London Confession 
of Faith. This confession was revised in 1646 and until the Second 
London Confession, became the most widely distributed confession 
among Particular Baptists. While these articles lack anything resem- 
bling a full treatment of the Law, the implication is that Christ has 
fulfilled the Law and, therefore, has replaced the Law. Article X, 
which has a number of scripture references in the margin, reads: 

Touching his Office, Jesus Christ onely is made the Mediator of the 
New Covenant, even the everlasting Covenant of grace between God and 
Man, to be perfectly and fully the Prophet, Priest and King of the 
Church of God for evermore. 35 

Article XXV reflects a very negative view of the Law. It was viewed as 
unnecessary and therefore irrelevant. 

The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is abso- 
lutely free; no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, 

34 Ibid. 
The Confession of Faith, Of those Churches which are commonly (though falsly) 
called Anabaptists, in Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, 159. 


preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but 
only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ 
crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a 
Saviour for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to be- 
lieve on Him. 36 

This article intends to say that the Law, much as the General Baptists 
said, is a burden and a terror from which the Christian is set free. But 
it goes on to imply that the purpose of the Law was to reveal the sinful 
soul, naked in the presence of God, and yet one that could receive 
Christ, and, therefore, experience new life in Him. This confession also 
acknowledges in Articles XXVIII and XXIX "Christ as head and King 
in this new Covenant." 37 It is followed by the statement in Article XXX, 

All beleevers through the knowledge of that Justification of life 
given by the Father, and brought forth by the bloud of Christ, have this 
as their great priviledge of the new Covenant, peace with God, and rec- 
onciliation, whereby they that were afarre off, were brought nigh by 
theat bloud, and have (as the Scripture speaks) peace passing all under- 
standing, yea, joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom wee 
have received the Atonement. 

It is evident from these articles that the Particular Baptists gave less 
attention to the Law and the Gospel than did the General Baptists. In 
spite of their Calvinistic soteriology, they too identified the Old Covenant 
with the Law, which is no longer binding, and the New Covenant with 
Christ, who is the new "Lawgiver" who establishes his law in the heart. 

Article LII brings this first Particular Baptist confession to a close 
with these memorable words: 

And thus wee desire to give unto God that which is Gods, and unto 
Cesar that which is Cesars, and unto all men that which belongeth unto 

The First London Confession of Faith, 1646 Edition, With an Appendix by Ben- 
jamin Cox, 1646 (Rochester, NY: Backus Book Publishers, 1981) 10. 
Confession of Faith, in Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, 164. 

38 Ibid., 164-65. 

39 Ibid., 170. "But if God with-hold the Magistrates allowance and furtherance 
herein; yet we must notwithstanding proceed together in Christian communion, not dar- 
ing to give place to suspend our practice, but to walk in obedience to Christ in the pro- 
fession and holding forth this faith before mentioned, even in the midst of all trialls and 
afflictions, not accounting our goods, lands, wives, children, fathers, mothers, brethren, 
sisters, yea, and our own lives dear unto us, so we mag (sic) finish our course with joy: 
remembering alwayes we ought to obey God rather then men, and grounding upon the 
commandment, commission and promise of our Lord and master Jesus Christ who as he 
hath all power in heaven and earth, so also hath promised, if we keep his commandments 
which he hath given us, to be with us to the end of the world: and when we have finished 
our course, and kept the faith, to give us the crowne of righteousnesse, which is laid up 
for all that love his appearing, and to whom we must give an account of all our actions, 
no man being able to discharge us of the same." 


them, endevouring our selves to have alwayes a cleare conscience void 
of offence towards God and towards man. And if any take this that we 
have said, to be heresie, then doe wee with the Apostle freely confesse, 
that after the way which they call heresie, worship we the God of our 
Fathers, beleeving all things which are written in the Law and in the 
Prophets and Apostles, desiring from our soules to disclaime all heresies 
and opinions which are not after Christ, and to be stedfast, unmoveable, 
alwayes abounding in the worke of the Lord, as knowing our labour 
shall not be in vain in the Lord. 

I Cor. I. 24: Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are 
helpers of your joy: for by faith we stand. [FINIS] 

The Second London Confession (1677-1688) was based upon the 
Westminster Confession of 1647. The Westminster divines drew 
heavily upon the First and Second Helvetic Confessions. Although Par- 
ticular Baptists adopted this confession, the revised edition of the First 
London Confession continued to be popular and more widely distributed 
in some areas than the Second London Confession. The occasion for the 
adoption of the Second London Confession was to show substantial 
agreement with the Presbyterians and Congregationalists during a time 
of renewed persecution in England. The Clarendon Code, a series of acts 
passed by Parliament from 1661-1665 designed to suppress dissent, 
was in the process of renewed enforcement. The Presbyterians, who 
were numbered among the dissenters after 1660, had successfully 
resisted the harshest aspects of the new laws. The Baptists and Congre- 
gationalists, who had not fared as well, hastened to identify with the 
Presbyterians. Hence, the Particular Baptists called for an assembly to 
consider revising the Westminster Confession for this purpose. 

Before the assembly convened, William Collins, a pastor in Lon- 
don, had revised the Westminster Confession to express a distinctive 
Baptist ecclesiology. With some exceptions, the proposed revision was 
in many places word for word identical with the Westminster docu- 
ment. Therefore, for the first time in any Baptist confession, there is a 
long section (Chapter 19) devoted to the Law of God. This chapter 
reproduces verbatim the Westminster Confession, with the exception 
of the first two clauses. In seven paragraphs the Law of God is further 
delineated as "moral law," as set forth in the Ten Commandments, 
and ceremonial law, "containing several typical ordinances, partly of 
worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and 
benefits; . . . In the fourth paragraph, it explains that the judicial 

40 Ibid., 170-71. 
Confession of Faith Put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations 
of Christians (baptized upon Profession of their Faith) in London and the Country, in 
Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, 276. 


laws which were no longer binding except "their general equity onely, 
being of moral use." The remainder of the paragraphs attempt to 
explain that the "moral law" is still binding for Christians. It states, 
"Neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much 
strengthen this obligation." In the sixth paragraph it explains that this 
does not mean that we who know Christ are under a covenant of 
works, but nevertheless the law provides "a Rule of life, informing 
them of the Will of God, and their Duty, it directs and binds them, to 
walk accordingly discovering also the sinfull pollutions of their 
Natures, Hearts and Lives; . . . ." The latter part of the paragraph 
goes to much pains to deny that this is once again putting the Christian 
under the Law, as it says rather awkwardly, 

The Promises of it likewise shew them Gods approbation of Obedience, 
and what blessings they may expect upon the performance therof, 
though not as due to them by the Law as a Covenant of Works; so as 
mans doing Good and refraining from Evil, because the Law incourageth 
to the one and deterreth from the other, is no Evidence of his being un- 
der the Law and not under Grace. 45 

The Confession then reiterates in paragraph seven that while the Chris- 
tian is bound to obey the moral law, it is still not a covenant of works and 
not contrary to grace, "but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ 
subduing and inabling the Will of man, to do that freely and chearfully, 
which the will of God revealed in the law, requireth to be done." 46 

Absent from this confession and the Westminster Confession, is 
any emphasis upon "the burden," or "curse" of the law and the peda- 
gogical function of the law in bringing one to Christ. The emphasis is, 
however, upon the Moral Law as enunciated by Moses in the deca- 
logue which was held to be still binding upon the Christian, but not 
necessary for salvation. It appears that the Westminster Confession of 
Faith attempted to avoid the charge of antinomianism, while maintain- 
ing that salvation does not come through works but by grace. The Sec- 
ond London Confession, therefore, represents a greater shift from both 
the First London Confession of 1644 and 1646 than from the General 
Baptist Confession of 1612. 

Chapter XX of the Westminster Confession proceeds to discuss 
Christian Liberty and the liberty of conscience. The confession explains 
that the Christian is free from the ceremonial law and to affirm, "God 

42 lbid. 

43 Ibid., 276-77. 

"Ibid., 277. 

45 Ibid. 

46 Ibid. 


alone is Lord of the Conscience, and hath left it free from the Doctrines 
and Commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his 
Word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship.' However, in the 
next two paragraphs, the confession indicates certain erroneous opin- 
ions or, "the manner of publishing or maintaining them," can be cause 
for intervention by the church and by the "power of the civil magis- 
trate." At this point the Second London Confession departs from the 
order of the Westminster to discuss in its Chapter XX, "Of the Gospel, 
and of the extent of the Grace thereof." It then moves to consider the 
Gospel as over against the failure of the Law, the first paragraph of 
which reads, 

THE Covenant of Works being broken by Sin, and made unprofit- 
able unto Life; God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the 
Seed of the Woman, as the means of calling the Elect, and begetting in 
them Faith and Repentance; in this Promise, the Gospel, as to the sub- 
stance of it, was revealed, and therein Effectual, for the Conversion and 
Salvation of Sinners. 

The fourth paragraph of the Second London Confession indicates that 

the Gospel is the only outward means, of revealing Christ, and saving 
Grace; and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who 
are dead in Trespasses, may be born again, Quickened or Regenerated; 
there is morover necessary, an effectual, insuperable work of the Holy 
Spirit, 50 

Chapter 21 of the Second London Confession then proceeds to dis- 
cuss Christian liberty and to emphasize in the second paragraph that, 
"God alone is Lord of the Conscience, and hath left it free from the Doc- 
trines and Commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his 
Word, or not contained in it." 51 Significantly the Baptists left out of this 
chapter any reference to the power of the magistrate or of the church to 
intervene where apparent erroneous beliefs or actions are engaged in by 
Christians, which was probably the saving feature of the Westminster 
Confession (Article 20) as far as parliament was concerned. 

There is little doubt that the Second London Confession intro- 
duced into Baptist life a robust Reformed understanding of the Bible, 
election, and the Law, which had never been prominent features of pre- 

The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647, in The Creeds of Christendom Vol. 
HI: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds with Translations (Grand Rapids: Baker Book 
House, 1969) 644. 
48 Ibid., 645. 

Confession of Faith Put forth, in Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, 278. 

Ibid., 278-79. 
Ibid., 279-80. 


vious Baptist confessions. That the Second London Confession never 
enjoyed the popularity of the First London Confession is evident by 
the fact that the First London Confession (1646 edition) was still being 
printed even after the Second London Confession had apparently won 
the day among the English Particular Baptists. However, the Second 
London Confession was adopted by the Philadelphia Association in 
1742 with two additional articles, and by a few other associations. But, 
the Separate Baptists, the largest group of Baptists in prewar Colonial 
America, steadfastly refused until finally in 1783 the Separate General 
Association of Virginia adopted the Philadelphia Confession with cer- 
tain reservations, which reads: 

To prevent its usurping a tyrannical power over the consciences of any: 
We do not mean that every person is to be bound to the strict observance 
of everything therein contained, nor do we mean to make it, in any re- 
spect, superior or equal to the scriptures in matters of faith and practice: 
although we think it the best composition of the kind now extant. . . . 52 

With the appearance of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith in 
1833 with its modified Calvinism, the Philadelphia Confession fell into 
disuse among Baptists in this country. 


In nineteenth century America, Baptists had few formally educated 
theologians. Although Baptists, like Anabaptists, had an abundance of 
freelance theologians whose homespun theologies were made up of a 
number of strains from diverse sources, there were few who were gradu- 
ates of theological schools. Daniel Parker, whose Two Seed in the Spirit 
Predestinarian Baptist movement, is illustrative of those whose theolo- 
gies were developed out of their own creative and innovative genius. Of 
these, John Leadley Dagg of Virginia, was the most capable and the best 
known. Through his own efforts he became proficient in Latin, Greek, 

52 Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, 353. See also Robert Baylor Semple, History of 
the Baptists in Virginia (No information supplied, 1894, Revised Edition; reprint, Lafay- 
ette, Tenn.: Church History Research and Archives, 1976) 92, 93 (page references are to 
reprint edition). 

53 For an example, article IX on "Election" reads: 

[We believe] That Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to 
which he [graciously] regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners; that being 
perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the 
means in connection with the end. {The New Hampshire Confession in 
Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions, 364) 

This confession was revised in 1925 and adapted by the Southern Baptist Convention 
which revised and enlarged it again in 1963. 


and Hebrew, as well as higher mathematics. Eventually after serving as 
pastor of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, he was elected presi- 
dent of Haddington College, and later of Mercer University. 54 

The first formally trained theologian of the nineteenth century and 
also the most influential, was James Petigru Boyce, the founder of the 
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and its first president. Boyce 
was a graduate of Brown University and of Princeton. At Princeton he 
became thoroughly captivated by the theology of Charles Hodge. His 
Abstract of Systematic Theology, published in 1887, was widely dis- 
tributed and doubtless shaped the theology of a number of the early 
graduates of Southern Seminary. In order to insure the orthodoxy of 
future generations of teachers, Boyce prepared an Abstract of Princi- 
ples which every professor was asked to sign in which each promised 
"to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, . . . " In this work, 
Law and Gospel are only mentioned in a casual way. They are sub- 
sumed under the "covenant of works" and the "covenant of grace." In 
illustrating what constitutes a covenant, Boyce wrote: "Thus, between 
a government and its responsible subjects, law becomes a covenant." 55 
He then continues, "Law prescribed by God as lawgiver is admitted to 
exist together with its sanctions and penalties; and, as in human law, so 
here, no excuse can be made of want of formal agreement; because of 
the natural obligation to obey." He continues: 

These facts are, however, more fully applicable to the covenant of 
works, regarded as the general law of obtaining and maintaining spiri- 
tual life, given to all mankind, and still held forth to them, than to the 
transactions under that covenant connected with Adam's fall. 56 

In numerous places where Boyce discusses the covenant of works and 
the covenant of grace, he refers the reader to Hodge's outline or manu- 
script lecture. Apparently he found himself virtually in complete agree- 
ment with Hodge's version of Calvinism. Therefore, it is only with the 
twentieth century theologians that an attempt is made to construct a 
theological system on something other than Protestant scholastic foun- 
dations. But in none of them do we find Law and Gospel as an organiz- 
ing principle. And only in Carl F. H. Henry's Personal Ethics do we find 
an entire chapter given to a discussion of "the Law and the Gospel." 

The first of the twentieth century Baptist theologians of note was 
Augustus Hopkins Strong, former President and Professor of Biblical 

54 Norman Wade Cox, ed., Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists (Nashville: Broad- 
man Press, 1958) s.v. "Dagg, John Leadley," by Malcolm Lester. 

55 James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology (Reprint, no information 
given) 235. 

56 Ibid. 


Theology at the Rochester Theological Seminary. In volume 2 of his 
three volume Systematic Theology, there is a relatively brief discussion 
of the Law of God. In this section, there are several statements that 
indicate how limited a role is given the Law in his overall theological 

The law of God is a general expression of God's will, applicable to all 
moral beings. . . . The law of God, accordingly, is a partial, not an ex- 
haustive, expression of God's nature. It constitutes, indeed, a manifesta- 
tion of that attribute of holiness which is fundamental in God, and which 
man must possess in order to be in harmony with God. But it does not 
fully express God's nature in its aspects of personality, sovereignty, 
helpfulness, mercy. . . . Mere law, therefore, leaves God's nature in these 
aspects of personality, sovereignty, helpfulness, mercy, to be expressed 
toward sinners in another way, namely, through the atoning, regenerat- 
ing, pardoning, sanctifying work of the gospel of Christ. As creation 
does not exclude miracles, so law does not exclude grace (Rom 8:3 — 
"what the law could not do . . . God" did). 57 

He quotes approvingly from C. H. Murphy: 

Law is a transcript of the mind of God as to what man ought to be. But 
God is not merely law, but love. There is more in his heart than could be 
wrapped up in the 'ten words.' Not the law, but only Christ, is the perfect 
image of God (John 1:17 — 'For the law was given through Moses; grace 
and truth came through Jesus Christ'). 58 

In the fourth place, he writes: "Grace is to be regarded, however, not 
as abrogating law, but as republishing and enforcing it (Rom 3:31 — 
'we establish the law')." 5 In the fifth and last place he says "thus the 
revelation of grace, while it takes up and includes in itself the revela- 
tion of law, adds something different in kind, namely, the manifesta- 
tion of the personal love of the Lawgiver. Without grace, law has only 
a demanding aspect." His final statement is indicative of his under- 
standing of the function of law. "In fine, grace is that the larger and 
completer manifestation of the divine nature, of which law constitutes 
the necessary but preparatory stage." 60 

In E. Y. Mullins' The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expres- 
sion, published in 1917, there is even a briefer treatment of the law 
which is seen in more personal dimensions than that in Strong. Mullins 
was arguably the most influential, even though not the most creative, 

57 Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Philadelphia: The Judson 
Press, 1907) 547-48. 
58 Ibid., 548. 
59 Ibid. 
60 Ibid., 549. 


theologian among Southern Baptists in the twentieth century. His dis- 
cussion of law is found in a section entitled, "The Biblical Teaching as 
to Sin." In this section he writes, "Sin has also been defined as a lack 
of conformity to God's moral law. This also is correct as a partial 
definition of sin. But lack of conformity to law is not an adequate 
definition." Further he writes, "Sin manifests itself in many ways but 
the ruling thought in them all is the departure of the sinner from Jeho- 
vah's will. There was indeed transgression of law, but it was Jehovah's 
law." Once again he discusses sin as a breach of the covenant relation 
between God and the people. He writes: 

God made many covenants with Israel. The Mosaic covenant best ex- 
presses the covenant idea. That idea was a nation in religious fellowship 
with God. Here all the provisions of the law, ceremonial and moral, re- 
lated to men inside the covenant. 62 

Therefore, both covenant and law were seen in their personal dimensions 
in relationship to God, and not so much in a contractual relationship. 

W. T. Conner, Professor of Theology for many years at Southwest- 
ern Baptist Theological Seminary, in The Gospel of Redemption, insists 
that it is the Gospel which brings the cross and the atoning work of 
Christ into the center stage of the drama of redemption in which the 
Law also plays an important part. He points out that the Law brings a 
knowledge of sin, "this shows," he writes, "that there was an intimate 
connection between the knowledge of the will of God and sin as an 
active principle in human life." He discusses law in relationship to 
the revelation of God, the first of which, he says, is in "the revelation of 
God and nature or the physical world." He continues, "the next stage in 
the revelation of God as related to sin is his revelation in reason and 
conscience, or man's rational and moral nature." He explains: "It 
seems that Paul is setting forth that the requirements of the law, at least 
in a general way, are revealed in man's moral consciousness, and that 
obedience to these requirements of the law as thus made known is vir- 
tually obedience to the law." "A third stage in God's revelation," 
Conner writes, "may be denoted by the term law. This is Paul's great 
term when thinking of God's revelation of himself in relation to man as 
sinful. By this he means primarily the Old Testament or Mosaic law." 

Edgar Young Mullins, The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression (Phila- 
delphia: The Judson Press, 1917) 288. 

62 Ibid., 289. 

63 Walter T. Conner, The Gospel of Redemption (Nashville: Broadman Press, 
1945) 12. 


65 Ibid., 13. 

66 Ibid. 


Conner then goes on to define the law in this respect as "the embodi- 
ment of the moral requirements of God in published ordinances.' 
Conner holds that the function of the Law was not to justify or to save, 
but rather to bring a consciousness of sin and to underline one's help- 
lessness and need of a redeemer. Thus it was pedagogic in its effect in 
order to lead the sinner to Christ. The fourth and final stage of revela- 
tion is "the revelation of the grace of God in Christ which saves from 
sin." Conner writes: "but we do not get the complete doctrine of sin 
until we see the grace of God that saves from sin." It is in respect to 
Christ that Conner sees the Holy Spirit's work in convicting concerning 
righteousness which only comes with the revelation of the righteous- 
ness in Christ which reveals the nature of sin. 

We mean by this that the cross shows that God saves us on princi- 
ples of righteousness. The cross makes it clear that in saving man God 
did not compromise with sin. The cross of Christ is the most uncompro- 
mising condemnation of human sin to be found in either history or expe- 
rience. Human selfishness and sin stand utterly condemned before that 
cross as nowhere else in God's world. 7 

In the final analysis, Conner argues that Christ has taken the curse of 
the Law from us which was not deliverance from a legalistic system 
but death. 

The curse was the curse of death. That curse comes on us because of our 
sin. The law pronounced that curse of death upon us because of our fail- 
ure to live up to its requirements. Christ redeemed us from that curse by 
taking the curse of death upon himself." 71 

In Conner, therefore, we see law as a part of the revelatory process in 
that it revealed man in his sin in the light of the righteousness of God 
which brought with it the curse of death which only Christ, in his 
redemptive act of sacrificial death, could remove. 

Perhaps the best known contemporary theologian among Baptists 
today is Carl F. H. Henry. In his Christian Personal Ethics, he devotes 
an entire chapter to the Law and the Gospel. The thrust of this chapter, 
as he fences with Brunner and Barth, and the contemporary advocates 
of existential ethics (the new morality), and the Roman Catholics, is 
that the Moral Law has not been abrogated. He argues persuasively 
that the Mosaic Law preceded the prophetic tradition and it states in 

6 'Ibid. 
68 Ibid., 14. 
69 Ibid. 
70 Ibid., 92. 
71 Ibid., 103. 


certain propositions that which was intrinsic and an expression of 
God's eternal moral will, the Law of God. While the ceremonial laws 
are no longer binding upon those who have committed themselves to 
Christ, the Moral Law has never been abolished. 

The Law tells what the eternally righteous Creator and Lord requires of 
his creatures. Since it is based on the nature and purpose of the change- 
less God, the Law can never be abolished, but remains forever. Not even 
Christ abrogates the Law taken in this sense, nor is the Divine salvation 
of the sinners by grace accomplished in violation of the moral law or in 
disregard to justice. 72 

Again he writes, "the eternal moral law of God is binding on believer 
and unbeliever alike.' After discussing the various aspects of the 
purpose of the law, he continues the insistence that the Law still is in 
effect. "It is a pedagogue that brings men to Christ." Then he insists 
"the Law therefore becomes a means of grace, disclosing the actual 
nature of sin and man's need for redemption." 74 Henry tries to avoid 
antinomianism while giving adequate attention to the Gospel. He rec- 
onciles his strong insistence that the Moral Law is binding forever with 
the new strength a Christian has to live according to Mosaic precepts. 

The Christian is no longer in hopeless bondage to a moral law he cannot 
fulfill, binding his conscience to a scheme of behavior beyond his reach 
as a sinner, and exhibiting him as a slave mastered by sin. Now the law's 
power against him is broken. God's free grace to the sinner has shattered 
the condemning power of the law and his inspired moral endeavor with 
the liberty and assurance of spiritual life. 75 

In this vein he continues to point out the relationship between Law and 
Gospel for the Christian life. "In the context of salvation by grace, the 
Law serves as the external criterion of virtue, as the rule of moral good 
and evil for the believer's walk and conversation. It sets forth the will 
of God in terms of what ought to be accomplished and avoided." 
Though, Henry argues that the Law does not lose its force against the 
Christian because it is inferior to the Gospel, or faulty form of "ethical 
demand," but "because its requirements have been fully met for him by 
Christ." 77 

72 Carl F. H. Henry, Christian Personal Ethics (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerd- 
mans Publishing Co., 1957) 350. 
73 Ibid., 353. 
74 Ibid., 355. 
75 Ibid., 354. 
76 Ibid., 356. 
77 Ibid., 357. 


There is more Law than Gospel in this chapter. As compared with 
Conner, who finds the fullest revelation by God in the Gospel and in 
the love which that Gospel engenders in Christian life, it is a little 
difficult to see that Henry has grasped anything like the significance of 
the Gospel and specifically the cross as a fuller — even ultimate — reve- 
lation of God. Perhaps because his chapter is essentially a polemic 
against what he considers modern distortions of ethics, it appears to 
short change the Gospel. 

Another contemporary Baptist theologian, James Leo Garrett, has 
just recently brought out the first volume of his two volume Systematic 
Theology. In contrast with Henry, Garrett has genuine appreciation for 
certain aspects of Brunner's delineation of the relationship of Law and 
Gospel. He also shows a greater awareness of the radical difference 
between the Mosaic law and the kerygma. Garrett is closer to Conner 
when he insists that "under the gospel of Christ, or under the gospel of 
grace, the law has a revelatory or convictive function." Like Conner, 
Garrett also holds that the Gospel in its power brings greater convic- 
tion for sin than the Law could ever bring. 

The deepest revelation of the nature and awfulness of sin is not in 
the conscience of human beings or through the law of God but in the 
message centered in the death of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. His 
cross was not only a revelation of God's love for sinful humankind, but 
also an unmasking of the very nature and awfulness of sin: the rejection 
of Jesus' interiorizing of the law, the refusal of God's greatest gift to hu- 
manity, the violent putting to death by creaturely humans of the Cre- 
ator's Son, and the spurning of that very self-giving love (agape) by 
which God chose to redeem humankind. "It is a strong paradox that part 
of the 'good news' is the revelation of the true meaning of sin." 78 

Garrett reflects the influence of W. T. Conner who emphasized the 
absolute necessity of the gospel for both its convicting power and its 
transforming grace. From this study, it appears that Conner and Garrett 
are closer to the Anabaptists' and early English Baptists' insistence 
upon the uniqueness of the Gospel as fulfillment of the Law, and also 
as a final and complete revelation of God, than any of the other Baptist 
theologians discussed here. 


It is readily apparent that both Anabaptists and Baptists have histor- 
ically understood the Law and the Gospel in a variety of different theo- 
logical formulations. There is, however, a rather consistent understanding 

78 James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerd- 
mans Publishing Company, 1990) 502. 


of the relationship of Law and Gospel in both Anabaptist treatments of 
the subject and Baptist understanding. The first major deviation from this 
commonality was that which was inserted into Baptist life with the adop- 
tion of the major features of the Westminster Confession, and particu- 
larly its long chapter on the Law. By this means Protestant Scholasticism, 
characteristic of Calvinism as expressed in the Second Helvetic Confes- 
sion of Faith, was inserted into the life of a people whose own under- 
standing was quite different from this theological formulation. Since that 
event, Boyce and Henry reflect more the influence of this approach to 
Law and Gospel than do Mullins, Conner, and Garrett. 

Yet, there are several elements in the Anabaptist and Baptist 
understanding of Law and Gospel that are fairly evident. The Moral 
Law is identified with the Mosaic decalogue. Other aspects of the cer- 
emonial law and judicial law in the Old Testament are not held binding 
on the Christian. The purpose of the Law was revelatory — to reveal the 
righteous nature of God and to bring conviction for sin, helping man- 
kind to realize the helplessness of its sinful condition before a righ- 
teous God. Thus, it was preparatory and to a certain extent an 
incomplete revelation of God. The Gospel, on the other hand, focused 
on the person, life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Christ, consti- 
tuting the ultimate revelation of God, and by the same token the ulti- 
mate condemnation of sin. This did not mean in the final analysis that 
those who had committed their lives to Christ were now free from 
moral obligations, but rather the new life which was made possible by 
the Holy Spirit's miracle of the new birth gives one the opportunity to 
live a life of victory over sin. For the Law is internalized by the Spirit 
and the Christian is therefore empowered to live a qualitatively differ- 
ent kind of life because of this new relationship to Christ. Therefore, 
while being justified by faith, the twice born is not thereby automati- 
cally antinomian, but rather seeks to live a life of discipleship in obe- 
dience to Christ that finds its highest expression in the Law of love as 
exemplified in the crucified Lord. 

Grace Theological Journal 12.2 (1991) 215-232 


Ronald T. Clutter 


The movement known as the Brethren Church began in 1708 in Ger- 
many under the leadership of Alexander Mack (1679-1735), who 
had been a member of the Reformed Church. Having been influenced 
strongly by spokesmen for Radical German Pietism and by representa- 
tives of the Anabaptist movement, Mack and seven others were bap- 
tized by trine immersion in August 1708 and began a new church 
initially referring to themselves as "Brethren." Persecution was soon 
in coming in an era which did not encourage religious tolerance and 
the growing church relocated, eventually immigrating to America in 
two groups, one in 1719 and the second, including Mack, in 1729. 

Emphasizing the Bible as its soul authority and eschewing creedal 
subscription, the Brethren found themselves on occasion subject to 
differing interpretations from their church leaders. The focus of this 
study is upon the concepts of law and gospel as articulated by some 
prominent persons in the history of the movement. First the views of 

! The Brethren movement has been identified by many names. The early Brethren 
by design had no distinctive name for their fellowship of believers. They simply referred 
to themselves as Briider ("brethren") or sometimes as Taufgesinnten ("Baptist-minded"). 
Others quickly began to call them Taufer ("[AnaJBaptists") or Neue Taufer ("New 
[AnaJBaptists") to distinguish them from the Mennonites and Swiss Brethren that they 
so closely resembled. They were also called Schwarzenau Taufer after the place where 
the movement originated. Various nicknames that referred to their dramatic form of im- 
mersion baptism were Dompelaar and Tunker or Tunck-Taufer (from the German word 
tunken, meaning "to dunk," or "immerse"). 

In America, Brethren were sometimes called Sunday Baptists or First-Day Baptists 
to distinguish them from the Sabbatarian Ephrata community whose members were 
known as Seventh Day Baptists (also Seventh-Day ers). Nicknames for the Brethren 
included Tumblers, Tumplers, and Tunkers. English-speaking outsiders tended to use 
Dunkers or Dunkards. Brethren have ordinarily disliked the term Dunkard. (Donald F. 
Durnbaugh and Dennis D. Martin, "Names, Brethren" in The Brethren Encyclopedia 
[Philadelphia: Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc., 1983] 2:910-11. 

For the purposes of this study, the term "Brethren" will be used to identify the 


Mack will be considered. Attention will then turn to the teachings of 
Peter Nead (1796-1877), who "was the chief spokesman for the style 
of life, the simplicity of doctrine, and the general world view of the 
German Baptist Brethren which prevailed from the Revolutionary War 
until about 1850." 2 

Following a three-fold division of the church in 1882-83, the 
body known as The Brethren Church was formed, composed of those 
who expressed the progressive stance that was one of the reasons for 
the schism. One leader of this church was Charles F. Yoder (1873— 
1955), who will be considered after Nead. Finally, attention will be 
turned to some participants in the dissension within The Brethren 
Church which led to further division in 1939. That break resulted in 
two groups claiming the same tradition, one retaining the title The 
Brethren Church, the other taking the name of the National Fellowship 
of Grace Brethren Churches. Many factors led to this split, one being 
the issue that is the concern of this study. Charges of legalism and anti- 
nomianism were part of the sometimes bitter exchange between the 
two Brethren factions. 



Alexander Mack, 3 the founder and first minister of the Brethren, 
received no formal theological education. As a miller in Schriesheim 
Mack was influenced strongly by the Radical Pietist and Separatist, 
Ernst Christoph Hochmann von Hochenau, with whom he traveled and 
preached in 1706. Bible study and prayer meetings were begun in 
Mack's home and as a result of success in evangelistic meetings with 
Hochmann, the officials of the Reformed Church in Heidelberg sought 
and received government assistance in opposing the unauthorized gath- 
erings. Mack and his wife fled Schriesheim, settling in the Wittgen- 
stein town of Schwarzenau. Continuing to travel with Hochmann, 
Mack came into contact with Anabaptists who impressed him with 
their expression of faith and their doctrine of the church. 

This twofold influence of Radical Pietism and Anabaptists served 
as a foundation for the development of Mack's thought. Concerned 
about a faith that was more than mere confession but that also resulted 
in an obedient life, Mack became convinced of the importance of bap- 
tism by immersion for those who had come to faith in Christ. The great 

2 Fred W. Benedict, "Nead, Peter" in The Brethren Encyclopedia, 2:918. 

3 A brief survey of the life of Alexander Mack by William G. Willoughby can be 
found in The Brethren Encyclopedia, 2:775-777. Willoughby also has written a biography 
on Mack, Counting the Cost (Elgin, IL: The Brethren Press, 1979). 


emphasis placed on baptism by Mack and those who met with him 
brought tension to the relationship with Hochmann but Mack was con- 
vinced of the need to follow the scriptures rather than man, even a 
godly man such as Hochmann. 

The Necessity of Obedience to Commandments 

The emphasis on obedience to the commands of God has been a 
part of the Brethren tradition from its beginning. Though Mack clearly 
stated that good news of salvation was received through faith, his con- 
cept of faith encompassed more than acceptance of the Savior. "It has 
been testified sufficiently above that we do not seek to earn salvation 
with these simple works, but by faith in Christ alone. If it is to be sav- 
ing faith, it must produce works of obedience.' The question to be 
answered was obedience to which commands. 

Mack, though allowing for continuity between the Old and New 
Testaments, drew a clear distinction between the commands of the Old 
and those of the New. 

We are of the opinion and believe as the apostle writes (Heb. 7:12): 
"For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a 
change in the law as well." As long as the Levitical priesthood existed, 
just that long no one dared to annul the law, or circumcision, without in- 
curring God's grave punishment and displeasure. However, when Christ 
came He introduced a law of life as the eternal High Priest and Son of 
God. He annulled the first law because it was too weak and could not 
make anyone perfect. He secured eternal redemption, revealed the paths 
to the Holy of Holies, and gave only laws of life. . . . 

Therefore, we believe that the teaching of Jesus the crucified must 
be kept until He himself shall come again and take vengeance with the 
flaming fire upon those who are not obedient to His gospel, according to 
Paul's witness (2 Thessalonians 1:8). For this reason, then, the teachings 
of Jesus are rightly to be observed by believers in these days. However, 
there are no commandments for unbelievers. 5 

Mack assumed that obedience to the instructions of Jesus is not to be 
considered an option but a necessity. 

Thus, it may be readily believed that God most certainly wants every- 
thing to be kept which He has made known and revealed to the whole 
world in these latter times through His beloved Son. That is, all who call 
themselves Christians should live as children of one household. The 

4 Alexander Mack, "Answers to Gruber's Basic Questions," trans, by Donald F. 
Durnbaugh, in European Origins of the Brethren, ed. by Donald F. Dumbaugh (Elgin, 
IL: The Brethren Press, 1958) 335. 

5 Ibid., 328. 


good Householder [Haus-Vater] has given them rules and laws which 
they are to keep and respect well and prudently. Along with it, He has 
promised them life eternal, if they will obey Him in all things — insig- 
nificant as well as the important ones. However, none of the teachings 
and ordinances of our Lord Jesus may be considered insignificant, for 
they were indeed commanded and ordained by an all-powerful Monarch 
and King. 

He wrote further: "Where there is Scriptural faith, it will also produce 
the true love according to the Scriptures. 'This is the love of God, that 
we keep His commandments' (1 John 5:3). " 7 

The obedience called for is not an extra effort on the part of the 
child of God but is the result of the quality of saving faith. Mack 
argued: "Faith in Christ produces obedience and submission to all of 
His words and commandments." Especially significant was the obedi- 
ence in submitting to believer's baptism. Though salvation is not 
received by baptism, a person who professed faith but refused submis- 
sion to believer's baptism was considered an unbeliever. 

We do indeed believe and profess that eternal life is not promised 
because of baptism, but only through faith in Christ (John 3:15, 18). 
Why should a believer not wish to do the will of Him in whom he be- 
lieves? If it is the will of Christ that a believer should be baptized, then 
it is also the will of the believer. If he thus wills and believes as Christ 
wills, he is saved, even if it were impossible for him to receive baptism. 
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, but it did not happen; the 
son was not sacrificed. Yet obedience was fulfilled, and the blessing was 
received. Therefore, a believer who desires to be baptized, but cannot 
obtain it because of necessity — like the criminal on the cross — is still 

If, however, a man does not desire to be baptized, he is rightly to be 
judged as unbelieving and disobedient, not because of the baptism, but 
because of his unbelief and disobedience. 9 

Note, Mack did not affirm that baptism saves but that the faith which 
saves drives the faithful to obedience beyond repentance and belief. In 
reacting against his Reformed background, he rejected the idea "that 
faith was an intellectual acceptance of propositional truth." His view 
of faith and salvation focused not upon the punctiliar moment of initia- 
tion, to which some added creedal subscription, but upon the progressive 

6 Alexander Mack, "Rights and Ordinances," trans, by Donald F. Durnbaugh, in 
European Origins of the Brethren, 345-47. 
7 Ibid., 382. 

8 Mack, "Basic Questions," 331. 
9 Ibid. 
10 Willoughby, Counting the Cost, 65. 


expression of obedience. Willoughby concluded that Mack interpreted 
faith as being like "a growing plant rather than a finished structure." 
He added: "To these early Baptists, faith which was not experienced as 
an inner commitment to Christ and expressed in practical acts in every- 
day life was an invalid faith. Only through faith-obedience, expressed 
voluntarily through acts of love, is one ever made whole." In their 
desire to obey Christ and follow His example, Mack and his church went 

1 ^ 

to some extremes, subsequently disavowed, including the practice of 
sexual continence for the married. The practice of the ban also has been 
judged extreme in some instances. 

In conclusion, it is clear that for Mack the Mosaic Law had been 
done away with the coming of the superior law of Christ. Though he 
emphasized the necessity of obedience to the commands of Christ, it is 
best to say that Mack was not a legalist in the sense of imposing laws 
upon individuals by which they might be saved or sanctified and to 
recognize that he had a view of faith that was not held commonly by 
those around him. By faith comes union with Christ and the faithful 
will do what Christ would have them to do. 



Raised in a Lutheran home, Nead turned away from the offer of 
training for ministry in the Lutheran church. For a time a member of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church, he was influenced to join the Breth- 
ren through a booklet published by Benjamin Bowman who served the 
church in Rockingham County, Virginia. An author of theological 
treatises and articles for the denominational paper, Nead's "writings 
introduced many people to the Brethren and his work became recog- 
nized as a standard for the Brethren." 

Mosaic Law 

Like Mack, Nead viewed Mosaic law as bound to the Old Testa- 
ment era and superseded by the work and commands of Christ. He 
divided the law into two categories, moral and ceremonial, and 
declared that both were necessary as forerunners to the coming of 

1 'ibid., 66. 
12 Ibid. 

13 Mack, "Basic Questions," 341. 

14 Albert T. Ronk, History of the Brethren Church (Ashland, OH: Brethren Publish- 
ing Co., 1968) 51-53. 

15 Benedict, "Nead, Peter," 2:918. 
16 Ibid., 2:919 


Jesus. The moral law had the twofold purpose of revealing the righ- 
teousness and holiness of God and the condemnation of humankind in 
failing to measure up to that righteousness. The moral law condemned 

1 & 

the sinner. As the moral law brought the knowledge of sin, the cere- 
monial law "revealed the expiation for sin." The Old Testament 
offerings and sacrifices did not bring expiation in themselves but were 
shadows of what was to come. 

New Testament Law 

Though teaching that the Mosaic law belonged to a previous dis- 
pensation, escape from obedience to law was not part of Nead's presen- 
tation. The New Testament is also law. Referring to the church, he 
wrote: "... Her profession: she acknowledges but one head; the Lord 
Jesus Christ: she acknowledges but one law book; the [New] Testa- 
ment. She believes that all members are obliged to observe all the laws 
and ordinances of the one law book." The legalism inherent in this 
statement is observed by Dale R. Stoffer: 

The Christian's responsibility with regard to the precepts delivered 
by Christ is unqualified obedience. The Brethren tendency of viewing 
the new life in Christ in legalistic terms is especially strong in Nead. Not 
one commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be taken lightly or 
overlooked. 22 

The Way of Salvation 

There are four steps involved in securing salvation. The first step is 
the enlightenment of the person to the truth of the gospel message. The 
next three steps are the responsibility of the individual who is to act 
upon the enlightenment provided through God's revelation. These steps, 
according to Nead, are "repentance towards God and Faith in our Lord 
Jesus Christ, and to enter into covenant with God, by being baptized in 
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." 

Repentance is defined as "a change of mind including that refor- 
mation of life effected by the power of the Gospel." 24 Nead wrote of 

Peter Nead, Theological Writings on Various Subjects (reprint of 1866 edition, 
Poland, OH: Dunker Reprints, 1985) 21. 

18 Ibid., 20. 

19 Ibid., 21. 

20 Ibid. 

21 Ibid., 356. 

22 Dale R. Stoffer, Background and Development of Brethren Doctrines 1650-1987 
(Philadelphia: Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc., 1989) 116. 

23 Nead, Theological Writings, 41. 


Ibid., 44. 


faith: "Faith is simply the reception of testimony, and when by the 
Gospel we are solicited, yea commanded to believe in Jesus Christ, we 
are to understand so as to credit the testimony of the divinity of Jesus 
Christ, to put our trustin [sic] him as the Saviour and Redeemer of our 
souls and bodies — and the evidence of Faith is obedience to the Gos- 
pel." This faith is commanded by God, who cannot require the 
impossible of people, and is, therefore, a voluntary exercise of the 
individual. "Faith then, as well as any other command of the Gospel, is 
at the control of man, that is it can be obeyed or disobeyed. . . . ' 

Repentance and faith constitute the individual a subject fit for 
baptism. Acknowledging that there are those who are aware of the 
command of baptism but who do not believe it "essential to salvation," 
Nead proclaimed: "... and as it respects my faith, I do believe, that 
baptism is not only a command, but also essential to salvation." Bap- 
tism is a necessary part of the salvation process for God purposes to 
enter into covenant with the believer "and it is in Baptism that this 


covenant is ratified." Those who have entered into covenant with 
God through baptism are the ones able to observe the precepts com- 
manded by Christ and are those with whom He abides (Matt 28:19- 
20). In opposing the proclamation of salvation by faith alone, Nead 
referred for support to Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:37-38. 31 

Some of the stress in Nead's words may be the result of the reviv- 
alism sweeping the eastern United States in the first half of the 1800s. 
Nead saw little or no value in these services for though they seemed to 
generate religious frenzy they did not produce workers for the king- 
dom of God. He wrote: 

For instance — It is certain that all those new converting means, which 
are held in such high estimation by many, can never accomplish a genu- 
ine change in man. I will not dispute but that those strange manoeuvers 
are calculated to creat [sic] great anxiety, and produce a partial change: 
but I contend, that inasmuch as they have not been appointed by Jesus 
Christ, or the apostles, that they have never been blessed, so as to pro- 
duce a genuine change in man — though we frequently hear the advo- 
cates for these modern means say, that they know that God has and does 
bless these mans. I should like to know in what way? Do they mean, that 
by the use of those means, so many have joined their society? If this be 
the blessing they allude to, I am inclined to believe that it is a great 

25 Ibid., 44. 
26 Ibid. 
27 Ibid., 45. 
28 Ibid., 46. 
29 Ibid., 52. 
30 Ibid., 103. 
31 Ibid., 313. 


curse instead of a blessing. The reader may take it for granted that the 
doctrines and commandments of men are always in the room of the Gos- 
pel, and when received are sure to produce a false impression, and if 
such deluded souls are not apprized of it in this life, they will be when 
their case cannot be remedied. I have no doubt, but that thousands be- 
lieve such revivals occasioned by the outpourings of the Spirit of God 
and will view me as a great enemy to the spread of Christianity. But I 
cannot well help it; I believe that it is my duty to protest against such 
corrupt proceedings. I say corrupt, because they are in lieu of the Word 
of God, and calculated to blind not only the present, but the rising gen- 
eration. The preachers [sic] sole aim is, the feelings of his audience. If 
he can only succeed at alarming them, he is sure to gain his point: 
whereas it is the duty of all preachers to illuminate the understanding in 
man, by preaching the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ; and if a sense of the 
Gospel does not cause them to yield obedience to Christ, then their sal- 
vation cannot be effected; for the word and Spirit of God is the seed of 
the new birth, and not the invention of man. 3 

Nead's concern for the church of Jesus Christ to be obedient to 
His commands resulted in prescribed practices. In addition to baptism, 
Nead emphasized the threefold communion service — feetwashing, the 
love feast and the Lord's Supper; the holy kiss; non-swearing of oaths; 
anointing of the sick with oil in Jesus' name; non-conformity to the 
world in dress and personal appearance; hospitality and almsgiving. 
However, this approach to salvation has brought criticism in light of 
what is considered a serious deficiency. Stoffer concluded that "his 
legalistic and literalistic approach to the Word tends to emphasize the 
ordinances, at the expense of the inner spirit and faith which vivify the 
obedience of faith.' 

Nead served as a leading spokesman for the traditionalist camp of 
Brethren who were concerned about a number of progressive steps 
being allowed within the fellowship, an issue which would lead to 
division in 1882-83. 



Concerns about the progressive ideas "including a salaried minis- 
try, personal choice in dress, a new approach to missions, and interest 
in secondary and higher education and a commitment to Sunday schools 
and protracted (evangelistic) meetings' emphasized by some within 

32 Ibid., 59-60. 

Stoffer, Background and Development of Brethren Doctrines, 1 17. 
34 Robert G. Clouse, "Holsinger, Henry Ritz," in The Brethren Encyclopedia, 1:621. 


the Brethren were partly responsible for a threefold division of the 
church in 1882-83. The progressive body became known as The Breth- 
ren Church, in which C. F. Yoder played an active role. His book, God's 
Means of Grace, presents the typical Brethren emphases concerning the 
Mosaic law and obedience but with a new approach. 

Yoder attended Taylor University and Manchester College before 
graduating from the University of Chicago with BA (1899) and BD 
(1902) degrees. 35 He served his church as a pastor, educator and 

Mosaic Law 

Like Mack and Nead before him, Yoder interpreted the Mosaic 
code as the forerunner of the gospel in the unfolding of the program of 
God. He explained: "There is the bud, then the blossom and then the 
fruit of ripened seed, which produces another plant with buds and 
flowers and fruit. So each dispensation has borne its fruit and passed 
away to give place to a new cycle, with better things." The Mosaic 
law was preparation for the gospel, the "shadow of good things to 
come," and fulfilled and done away with in Christ. 37 

In 1931, Yoder wrote articles for The Brethren Evangelist in which 
he discussed the Mosaic law and its relationship to the gospel. These 
articles were written in the question and answer form, focusing upon 
matters relating to the ten commandments. He began by denying that 
the ten commandments were the eternal moral law of God, distinct from 
the ceremonial and dispensational aspects of the law. He declared: "The 
ten commandments are a summary of the entire law. Therefore if the 
summary is moral the whole is moral." He explained that the ten 
commandments are "abolished in the letter and preserved in the spirit," 
a situation that is true of the other commands of the law as well. Deu- 
teronomy 25:4, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the 
corn" is an example of a commandment not of the ten which is applied 
in spirit in 1 Corinthians 9:9. 40 Responding to the question of the rein- 
stitution of the old covenant in the future age, Yoder wrote: 

The truth is that the prophetic language takes the familiar terms of 
the law to picture the time when it shall be fulfilled in Spirit under the 

Dennis D. Martin, "Yoder, Charles Francis," in The Brethren Encyclopedia, 

36 Ibid., 38-39. 
37 Ibid., 39-41. 
C. F. Yoder, "Studies in the Scriptures," The Brethren Evangelist 53:5 (31 Janu- 
ary 1931) 8. 
39 Ibid. 
40 Ibid., 9. 


new covenant made in the blood of Christ. Let us take an example: Psalm 
132:12-18, "If thy children (of David) keep my covenant they shall sit 
on my throne forever, because Jehovah hath chosen Zion. He hath de- 
sired it as his habitation. This is my rest forever. Here I will dwell, for I 
have desired it. I will bless it. I will satisfy its poor with bread. I will also 
bless its priests with health and the saints shall shout for joy. There I will 
make the horn of David to be renewed, "[sic] In Jesus, the only son of 
David to kep [sic] the covenant, is fulfilled the prophecy (Acts 2:30, 31). 
Zion is the new Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26). The rest is the rest in the Holy 
Spirit (Isa. 28:11; Acts 2:1-4). The poor are the repentant sinners, sa- 
tisfied with the bread of Christ (John 6:35-57). The priests are believers 
(1 Pet. 2:5) and the voices of jubilee are their sacrifices of praise (Heb. 
13:13-16). The horn of David is the scepter of Christ (Acts 4:26-27). It 
is true that Israel will return to her land in unbelief, but when she looks 
upon him whom she has pierced she will repent and believe, the same as 
do the Gentiles (Rom. 10:12-13; 11:25-27)/ 


The New Covenant 

The New Covenant, which supersedes the Old, is "but a further 
unfolding of God's revelation of Himself" and, as with the Old, has 
ordinances which are "fundamental to the spiritual life." The empha- 
sis placed on the ordinances by progressive Brethren, such as Yoder, is 
different in approach than that of the Brethren tradition. Rather than 
focusing upon the matter of compliance with the New Covenant ordi- 
nances as commands of Christ to be obeyed, a view which Yoder did 
not deny, he stressed the benefits of obedience. He argued: 

The symbols or ordinances are helps to character and means of 
teaching, and because they are truly "God's means of grace" they have 
an intrinsic value which makes them worth contending for. The old apol- 
ogetic made much of technical arguments and formal obedience. Such 
arguments now fail to appeal to thinking people so much as arguments 
based on utility. And, although the point has been much ignored in the 
past, here is the greatest reason for faithfulness to God's institutions. 
They are given for man's good, by Him who best of all knew man's 
needs and how to supply them. 43 

Yoder also affirmed: "The ordinances of the church have an inherent 
value which makes them worth while, even if they had not the divine 
command to back them up." He listed sixteen values with scripture 
support and commentary. 45 

41 Yoder, "Studies in the Scriptures," The Brethren Evangelist 53:6 (7 February 

42 Ibid., 43, 46. 

43 Yoder, God's Means of Grace, 13. 

"Ibid., 30. 

45 Ibid., 30-36. 


Though approaching the issue of ordinances differently, Yoder nev- 
ertheless was in agreement with his forebears in the Brethren tradition as 
he interpreted the gospel to encompass more than belief in Christ. His 
"Studies in Scripture" are divided into two parts. First are the gospel 
doctrines which include church membership qualifications, duties, doc- 
trines, discipline, meetings and ordinances. Gospel ordinances, referring 
to baptism and the Lord's Supper, make up the second part. This view 
of the meaning of gospel was challenged in the 1930s with the increas- 
ing influence of dispensationalism in The Brethren Church. 



Having existed for two centuries without a confessional statement 
and proclaiming that the Bible was the only final authority, the Breth- 
ren had encountered division previously. There were at least twenty- 
one instances of schism among the Brethren in less than two centuries 
of the movement's existence. 47 With the arrival of the 1930s, leaders in 
the denomination found themselves involved in heated debate as con- 
flicting theological viewpoints surfaced within the church. Calvinism, 
dispensationalism and fundamentalism entered into the fellowship 
through the influence of church leaders such as Alva J. McClain and 
Louis S. Bauman. 

McClain (1888-1968) was converted as a result of revival meet- 
ings held by Bauman in 1911 and transferred to the Bible Institute of 
Los Angeles from the University of Washington. He received his semi- 
nary education at Xenia Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institu- 
tion. McClain graduated from Occidental College after completing his 
seminary work. His formal education, therefore, took place in schools 
that were Calvinistic or fundamental and dispensational. His influence 
was exercised in The Brethren Church through his pastoral ministry in 
Philadelphia and particularly through his teaching ministry at Ashland 
College and, later, Ashland Theological Seminary. He was the most 
prominent theologian in The Brethren Church and contributed a col- 
umn regularly to The Brethren Evangelist. 

Bauman (1875-1950) served as pastor in Philadelphia and later 
planted and pastored the First Brethren Church of Long Beach, Cali- 
fornia, which, under his leadership, became the largest church in the 
denomination. Having been influenced strongly by a friend in his Phil- 
adelphia church, Bauman became deeply interested in the subject of 
prophecy. He became an advocate of dispensationalism and was one of 

46 Yoder, "Studies in the Scriptures," The Brethren Evangelist 53:8 (21 February 
1931) 8-9. 

47 Robert B. Blair, "Schism," in The Brethren Encyclopedia, 2:1152. 


the better-known prophecy conference speakers in fundamentalist cir- 
cles. At one time he had questioned the doctrine known as eternal 
security but came to cling to that position. Though it would be inap- 
propriate to identify Bauman as a Calvinist, his view of security posed 
a problem for the more traditional Brethren. 

Calvinism was a problem to the Brethren who had historically 
emphasized the freedom of the individual to choose or not choose to 
turn to God in faith. The doctrine of election espoused by Calvinism 
ran contrary to Brethren tradition. The doctrine of eternal security was 
an offense to Brethren who were convinced that it afforded one assur- 
ance of salvation without any necessary expression of Christian obe- 
dience. Such Brethren could point to those who, having made a 
profession of faith, were told that their salvation was certain whether 
or not they lived in obedience to the ordinances of God. Such a view 
was contrary to all Brethren teaching. 

Dispensationalism posed a problem not because of its interpreta- 
tions of the prophetic scriptures but because of its view of law and 
grace. Where Brethren believed that obedience to the commands of 
God did not violate the principle of grace, dispensationalists pro- 
claimed that the two concepts were incompatible. The latter view was 
of greatest offense to the traditional Brethren in the consideration of 
the Sermon on the Mount which contained commands of Christ to be 
obeyed by the church, according to the Brethren, but was relegated to a 
future interim period or to a Jewish kingdom by dispensationalists. 

Fundamentalism was a movement which was interdenominational 
in its scope and, therefore, did not put a premium on the ordinances as 
practiced among the Brethren. The revivalistic emphasis of many fun- 
damentalists also ran against the Brethren concept of a growing faith 
and obedience, a progressive salvation. 


McClain articulated his view of the law in a booklet, Law and 
Grace. He agreed with Yoder that the Mosaic law must be viewed as a 
whole; that it was incorrect to perpetuate one part of the law while 
ignoring the rest of its content. That law was given to Israel as the 
Old Covenant relationship. 49 McClain contended that the word law in 
the New Testament referred to Mosaic law and for a Christian in any 
sense to be under law means subjection to Mosaic legislation. Most 
disconcerting to the traditional Brethren was the view of the Sermon 
on the Mount espoused by McClain. He wrote: "The Sermon on the 

48 Alva J. McClain, Law and Grace (reprint of 1954 ed., Winona Lake, IN: BMH 
Books, 1973) 8. 

49 Ibid., 31-35. 
50 Ibid., 43. 


Mount is an interpretation, in part, of the same Mosaic law, with spe- 
cial reference to its original inner meaning." 51 The Sermon on the 
Mount contains the three aspects of the Mosaic arrangement: moral, 
civil and ceremonial legislation and also includes the penalties of that 
law. 52 It is left for the reader to understand that the Christian, freed 
from responsibility to the Mosaic law, is free from obligation to the 
Sermon on the Mount. What has been considered an essential part of 
the gospel content by the Brethren was now declared Old Testament 
law and not gospel at all. 

Bauman made this claim in bold words. "Now, there is almost as 
much gospel of salvation in the "Sermon on the Mount" as there is 
warmth in an iceberg! The "Sermon on the Mount" contains no gospel 
of salvation at all! The "Sermon on the Mount" is Simon-pure law!" 
As one compares what Bauman said with the view of the earlier Breth- 
ren, there need not be the conclusion of contradiction. The traditional 
Brethren did view the Sermon on the Mount as law, New Covenant 
law, while Bauman identified it with Old Covenant law. At this point it 
is a dispensational Brethren view pitted against the traditional Brethren 
perspective. Bauman was adamant about salvation by faith alone with 
absolutely no works attached. However, he was just as assertive in 
declaring that he was convinced that there was not "a single preacher 
in our Brethren denomination that does not believe that when a man is 
saved,— 'born again'— he gives THE EVIDENCE OF HIS SALVA- 
TION in a life that is obedient to the will of God as expressed in the 
commandments of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Bauman would 
seem to be incorrect and in disagreement with McClain for the latter 
did not interpret the Sermon on the Mount as commandments of Jesus 
directly applicable to the Christian. 

Claud Studebaker (1883-1961), pastor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylva- 
nia, and, later Goshen, Indiana, and Isaac Daniel Bowman (1862-1953) 
lecturer, pastor and evangelist, wrote in defense of the traditional 
Brethren position. Studebaker asserted his commitment to salvation by 
grace through faith alone at the same time that he affirmed that baptism 
was related to salvation. He wrote about the importance of baptism: 

In my commission as a preacher of the Gospel of Christ, the Lord in- 
structs me to teach and to baptize. May I say it makes no difference 
about baptism? When Christ says (Mark 16:16), "He that believeth and 
is baptized shall be saved," have I the liberty to say, baptism bears no 

51 Ibid., 12. 

52 Ibid., 13-14. 

53 Louis S. Bauman, "God's Plan for Our Age," The Brethren Evangelist 58:40 (17 
October 1936) 10. 

54 Louis S. Bauman, "The Grace That 'Bringeth Salvation;' the Salvation That 
Bringeth Forth 'Good Words,' " The Brethren Evangelist 60:35 (3 September 1938) 4. 


relation to salvation? If Christ told Nicodemus (John 3:5), "Except a 
man be born of water and of the Spirit," may I insist on the new birth 
and ignore the water? Christ was well aware of salvation wholly by 
grace without the works of the law, it is his gift of life, and Christ has 
ordained the law of spiritual life. Did the man who insisted on baptism 
immediately after his confession of Christ, probably that same hour of 
the night in a cold stream, believe any less in "Salvation by grace 
through faith," or did he have a higher regard for the plain commands of 
Christ? 55 

He acknowledged that "baptism does not wash away the sins of the 
flesh, but it is the outward symbol of that which takes place in the heart 
of faith and the marvelous grace of God." 56 In defending the Brethren 
of previous generations, he concluded: "It may be our fathers over- 
emphasized the importance of baptism, but my feeling is, that they had 
just as thorough knowledge of salvation by grace without works as any 
group, but a greater emphasis on obedience to him who ordained life 
and salvation." 

In his concern for the diminishing importance placed upon bap- 
tism within fundamental churches, Studebaker asserted: 

Baptism in water is always associated with conversion, Scripturally 
and historically. Such significance is inherent in the nature of the or- 
dinance. I would not say a man could not be saved without baptism, 
neither would I say it is not essential to salvation. I can say with all pos- 
itiveness that Christ taught Nicodemus it was an essential part of the 
new birth. He commissioned me to preach and to baptize, saying "he 
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" and I insist on baptism. If 
folks are saved without it, I have no regrets, but be it far from me so to 
teach it. I believe just as strongly as any that "We are justified by faith 
without the works of the law," but am just as firmly convinced that God 
has placed the holy ordinance of baptism at the door of the church as 
a monumental testimony of indisputable character that man must be 
cleansed, born anew, by faith in him who died and rose again, by the 
power of the triune God, and the church does well to give it due signifi- 
cance as a mighty argument for the doctrine of salvation. She removes 
the ordinance at great peril to those doctrines. 58 

He continued to express his concern in another article published two 
years later. Commenting on Ephesians 5:26, he wrote: 

55 Claud Studebaker, "Importance of Christian Baptism," The Brethren Evangelist 
56:24 (16 June 1934) 7. 

56 Ibid. 

57 Ibid., 8. 

58 Claud Studebaker, "The Importance of Christian Baptism — Second Article," The 
Brethren Evangelist 56:31 (11 August 1934) 8. 


My first conclusion was, there is no cleansing of my heart by the word, 
unless I obey the word. No matter what your spiritual understanding, no 
disobedient soul will be cleansed by the word. I think of Naaman, when 
the prophet speaking the word of God without any show of power of the 
Almighty, quietly sent word, "Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and 
thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean." (II Kings 
5:10). I believe if Naaman had not dipped himself seven times in the 
Jordan river he would not have been cleansed. The word cleansed him, 
but the word said, "dip in water," and therefore, if he had expected the 
word to cleanse without water, he would have no doubt have died a 
leper. The water did not cleanse, his obedience did not cleanse, but he 
could not have the cleansing of the word without obedience to it, and if 
the word involved water and dipping in it, then in order for the word to 
cleanse, everything that the word says must be done. 59 

After quoting a large number of New Testament texts in which obe- 
dience is the emphasis, he concluded: "Certainly, these texts are 
sufficient to emphasize the fundamental fact that, cleansing, begetting, 
purifying your souls, being born again, partaking of divine nature, is 
accomplished obedience to the word of God which liveth and abideth 
forever." 60 

I. D. Bowman furthered the debate in The Brethren Church as he 
affirmed of the gospel: "Part of the story of salvation is told in one 
place and part in another. It takes the whole Gospel to tell the whole 
story of salvation." He added: 

Let us take the message of the whole Gospel, and not merely a part 
of it. Faith is necessary, most assuredly, but we also read of the neces- 
sity of Repentance, Baptism, Conversion, Regeneration, Confession, 
Calling on the Name of the Lord, Hope, Love, Obedience to the whole 
Gospel according to the light and ability that we have. We accept the 
whole Gospel for ultimate and complete salvation. 62 

L. S. Bauman responded to Bowman and to George T. Ronk, whose 
moderator's address before the 1935 Illiokota District was reprinted in 
The Brethren Evangelist and included criticism of what he branded a 
Neo-Calvinism which threatened Brethren values. 63 Bauman's chief 
concerns were the emphasis on baptism and the Sermon on the Mount. 

59 Claud Studebaker, "Cleansing By The Word," The Brethren Evangelist 58:22 
(6 June 1936) 7. 
60 Ibid., 15. 
I. D. Bowman, "Progressive Unfolding of God's Plan of Salvation," The Breth- 
ren Evangelist 57:48 (14 December 1935) 12. 
62 Ibid. 
George T. Ronk, "Freedom — Mediation — Sainthood," The Brethren Evangelist 
57:49 (21 December 1935) 2, 19-20; and 57:50 (28 December 1935) 12-14. 


He used an experience to challenge what he viewed as a potentially dan- 
gerous over-estimation of believer's baptism. 

We shall never forget that once upon a time, we asked a very stal- 
wart Brethren brother whether or not sprinkling was baptism. "Certainly 
not!" was the emphatic response; "baptism means dipping, and if you 
are not dipped, you are not baptized!" Later on, we put this question to 
him: "Brother, do you believe a man can be saved without baptism?" 
"Certainly not," said he; "the Bible settles that! 'He that believeth and is 
baptized shall be saved'!" At a later date, this brother was urging us to 
attend "a wonderful conference," saying that it was proving "such a 

great spiritual blessing" to him. We replied: "Brother , the 

speakers on that program are nearly all sprinkled Presbyterians. There- 
fore, they have not been baptized. Therefore, they are not saved." 64 

Bauman sought to prove that salvation is only by grace through 
faith without interacting with the issue which produced the conflict, 
that is, differing definitions of salvation. Bauman focused upon the 
moment of rebirth while other Brethren focused on the life that was 
produced by the faith professed. Both suffered from a short-sightedness 
which could not see the other position in proper perspective. This prob- 
lem is evident as Bauman again stressed that the Sermon on the Mount 
is not gospel. 

It is the very essence of the holy law of God. It is the finest standard for 
moral living ever formulated. It is utterly divine! No child of God will 
fail to profit by its teaching. And yet, IT DOES NOT CONTAIN A SIN- 
GLE LINE OF THE GOSPEL (i.e., the "good news") of CHRIST. It is 
the law of Christ, not the Gospel of Christ. 65 

Again, the issue of the Brethren distinction between Old Testament 
law and New Testament law was not addressed. On the other hand, the 
traditional Brethren writers failed to account for the close affinity of 
the Sermon on the Mount to the Mosaic legislation. 

I. D. Bowman tried to steer a course between faith and works 
as he also sought to maintain a middle road between Calvinistic and 
Arminian soteriology. He valued the Calvinist emphasis on salvation 
by grace but was concerned about the underestimating of obedience. 
He commended the Arminian emphasis on obedience to God but was 
concerned that it tended to overlook that emphasis on salvation by 
grace. Recognizing the importance of the conflict confronting the 

^Louis S. Bauman, "SALVATION: By the Working of Law? or, 'By Grace 
Through Faith'?," 58:1 (4 January 1936) 7. 

65 Ibid., 14. 

66 I. D. Bowman, "Grace and Obedience," The Brethren Evangelist 60:18 (30 April 
1938) 17. 


denomination, he concluded: "A proper balance between grace and 
works of faith is hard to attain so we should seek the unity of the 
Spirit, pray for the love of God that never faileth and that we be one in 
Christ, dwelling together in unity." The next year witnessed the divi- 
sion of The Brethren Church. 


With its theme "The Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the 
Bible," and the refusal to adopt a confessional formula to identify with 
a particular doctrinal position, the Brethren found themselves wrestling 
with the problem of differing interpretations of the scriptures by men 
committed to the same Lord and the same scripture testimony. Winds 
of social change and theological development created circumstances 
where conflicting interpretations of the Word of God issued forth from 
within the same tradition. The most grievous fact is that, though cer- 
tain divisions of the church may have been inevitable due to the forces 
that drove the differing factions, there was apparent failure to under- 
stand, or even attempt to understand, the opposition. 

Throughout Brethren history, the Mosaic law has been viewed as 
surpassed by the New Covenant message of Christ. The issue of the 
relationship of the Christian to Mosaic legislation did not pose a prob- 
lem for the Brethren who focused on the New Covenant. But contro- 
versy has developed concerning the content of the message of the New 

That New Covenant message is the good news, the gospel. But 
what is the gospel? Is it the message of Jesus crucified, buried and 
raised from the dead? Or is it the whole New Testament formula for 
Christian experience: repentance, faith, baptism and a life of obedi- 
ence? What is the place of the Sermon on the Mount? Is it the revela- 
tion of what was intended in Mosaic law and, therefore, applicable 
only to a law economy, or is it the embodiment of the commands of 
Jesus to be practiced by His followers who are responsible to observe 
whatever He has commanded? 

With regard to the human responsibility in salvation, what is 
faith? Is it a commitment to Christ as Savior in a punctiliar sense, a 
decision made at a particular point of time or is it dynamic force which 
bears fruit in continued obedience to the ordinances of the New Testa- 
ment? Does faith bring new birth which then makes possible obedience 
or is saving faith of such a quality that obedience flows from it? 

It is of interest to Brethren that a segment of evangelicalism today 
is wrestling with a concept called Lordship salvation. Those identified 

67 Ibid., 19. 


as advocating Lordship salvation are occasionally accused of capitulat- 
ing to a principle of Reformed, or Covenant, theology. However, for 
almost three centuries, a non-Calvinistic movement has been calling 
for saving faith to be evidenced in obedience. This movement, small in 
comparison to the major denominations, has long struggled to define 
appropriately the gospel and relate its message properly to the com- 
mands of God. Tragically, this striving to understand and define has on 
occasion been one factor, among other conflicts, which has resulted in 
schism as some in the conflict have been unable to understand, and/or, 
appreciate the perspective of the opposition. Brethren history demon- 
strates the debate about the content of the "good news" can lead to 
"bad news" for the church if the call of the Lord to love and unity is 
ignored by brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Grace Theological Journal 12.2 (1991) 233-243 


Donald W. Dayton 

One of the great puzzles about the literature interpreting modern 
"evangelicalism" is that the historical and theological experience of 
Methodism is hardly ever used to provide the categories of interpretation. 
Historically, this is very surprising because the Methodist movement, 
founded largely under the influence of John Wesley, has been the major 
continuing product of the "Evangelical Revival" of the 18th century that 
set the tone for what has become known as "evangelicalism." This is par- 
ticularly relevant to the North American experience where the period 
from roughly 1820 to World War I has been interchangeably described 
by historians as the "age of Methodism" and the "age of evangelicalism." 
And if one turns attention to the modern progeny of Wesley — either to 
the children of Methodism (the holiness movement) or to the grand- 
children of Methodism (the pentecostal movement), this neglect becomes 
even more obvious demographically because the vast majority of the 
membership of such groups as the National Association of Evangelicals 
or of the Christian College Consortium stands in this theological lineage. 
I am gratified therefore that the planners of this meeting have included 
the Wesleyan tradition among those whose understanding of "law and 
gospel" has an important contribution to make to the theological articu- 
lation of an "evangelical" perspective on this key issue. 

Before turning directly to Wesley and his understanding of "law and 
gospel," I need to make a few preliminary comments about how to posi- 
tion Wesley in the larger Christian and evangelical panorama. One of the 
reasons for the neglect of the Wesleyan tradition in the larger interpreta- 
tion of the "evangelical" experience is that there are strange quirks in the 
way that we use the label "evangelical" — and in the fact that behind the 
word is such basic confusion that we may speak of "evangelicalism" as 
such as "an essentially contested concept," to use an expression more at 
home in the British philosophical context. In several places 1 I have 

'Most recently in my essays in a volume I edited with Robert Johnston, The Vari- 
ety of American Evangelicalism (Knoxville, Tennessee: The University of Tennessee 
Press, 1991 — paperback edition Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1991). 


developed a typology of conflicting meanings of the word "evangelical" 
that roots each in various periods of conflict within the life of the church. 
The first meaning of "evangelical" derives its basic thrust from the Prot- 
estant Reformation and may be described theologically in terms of the 
great sola's of Martin Luther: by faith alone, by grace alone, by Christ 
alone, and by scripture alone — a formulation of the gospel that makes 
the theme of "justification of faith" the organizing principle. The most 
recent experience giving rise to a set of connotations for the word "evan- 
gelical" has been the fundamentalist/modernist controversy, in which the 
basic thrust of the word "evangelical" has come to mean opposition to 
"modernity" and the "modern" reinterpretations of Christian faith that 
have emerged since the Enlightenment. In this sense "evangelical" con- 
veys less of a theological position (with a particular perspective on the 
standard theological loci — that is, a particular doctrine of God, of human 
nature, of salvation, etc.) than a particular methodological stance with 
regard to Enlightenment "liberalism" that positions "evangelicalism" 
methodologically just to the right of "neo-orthodoxy" and just to the left 
of "fundamentalism" on some sort of spectrum that measures accommo- 
dation to the Enlightenment. I would contend that Wesley and classical 
Methodism constitute a third paradigm of what it means to be "evangel- 
ical" — one that I would call "classical evangelicalism." This position is 
a bit harder to describe theologically, but it brings the experience of con- 
version and regeneration to the fore in a way that organizes the gospel 
around themes of "sanctification" and the nature of the "Christian walk 
and life" that result from such an experience. 

I want to suggest, then, that our dialogue about many issues is 
hampered by the fact that our use of the word "evangelical" today is 
largely determined by the conflicts of the 16th or the 20th centuries in 
such a way as to suppress the experience of the 1 8th century and lead 
us away from it and the determinative role of Methodism in the shap- 
ing of most modern forms of "evangelicalism." And the significant 
point for our discussion today is that the thought of John Wesley firmly 
resists being collapsed into the categories of either the 20th or the 16th 
century meanings of what it means to be "evangelical." 

David Bebbington, speaking from the other side of the Atlantic, is 
about the only interpreter of "evangelicalism" that I have seen to 
notice the profound influence of the Enlightenment on the "evangeli- 
cal" experience and its many continuities with it. Another way of 
making this point is to remind ourselves of the fact that Methodism 

2 Bebbington makes this point regularly, but most explicitly in his contribution to 
the recent festschrift for John Stott, "Evangelical Christianity and the Enlightenment," 
Martyn Eden and David F. Wells, editors, The Gospel in the Modern World (Downers 
Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1991). 


was the first major Christian movement after the Enlightenment and 
was to a remarkable extent radically contextualized to it and its catego- 
ries of thought. This is clearly seen in the positive manner in which 
Wesley refers to "reason" in a way that is very foreign to both Luther 
and modern fundamentalist evangelicalism — a point which I shall 
demonstrate from Wesley momentarily. 

Luther has become such a symbol of the Reformation and his cat- 
egories of thought have become so determinative for all of protestantism 
that we sometimes neglect the extent to which we cannot understand 
either Wesley or eighteenth century "evangelicalism" in this theological 
line. This is so true that I wonder if we may understand Wesleyanism as 
a form of protestantism at all. Something like this was argued over half 
a century ago by French Catholic priest Maximin Piette in John Wesley 
in the Evolution of Protestantism, in which it is suggested that Wesley 
constituted a sort of reversion to Catholicism within the Protestant tra- 
dition. We don't have the time to explore this thesis but, since it will be 
central to the case that I wish to make, I will point to a few provocative 
illustrations of this perspective that will help provide the context for 
understanding Wesley's doctrine of "law and gospel": 

(1) Historically, we should remind ourselves that Wesley stands to 
a great extent outside the continental reformation and remained to his 
death an Anglican priest who was influenced as much by Anglo- 
catholicism as he was by his mother's Puritan and dissenting back- 
ground. He stood in the tradition of Anglican "moralism" tempered by 
other influences as diverse as Moravian pietism and Catholic mysticism. 

(2) Epistemologically, it is doubtful whether Wesley may be 
interpreted in the categories of the sola scriptura. This is, of course, 
much disputed by parties who emphasize the priority of the bible in 
Wesley's thought against other interpreters of Wesley who emphasize 
the Wesleyan quadrilateral of the correlation of Scripture, reason, tra- 
dition and experience. However one resolves such debates, the fact that 
they exist testifies to the "catholic" character of Wesley's thought on 
the one side and the influence of the Enlightenment on the other. 

(3) Soteriologically, Wesley's turn to sanctification as the organiz- 
ing motif of his theology may be interpreted as a reversion to Catholic 
themes. Certainly many of the implications of this move lead him 
toward themes that sound "catholic": the appropriation of virtue lan- 
guage, his understanding that righteousness is actually imparted to the 
Christian in a way foreign to the forensic language of "imputation" of 
the magisterial Reformation, and so on. A similar way of making the 
same point is to notice that magisterial protestantism makes "faith" the 

Maximin Piette, John Wesley in the Evolution of Protestantism (London: Sheed 
and Ward, 1937). 


central theological virtue, while Wesley is very clear that "love" is the 
central virtue and that faith is instrumental to love. This point is 
sufficiently important that I will quote directly from Wesley: 

. . . faith itself, even Christian faith, the faith of God's elect, the faith of 
the operation of God, still is only the handmaiden of love. As glorious 
and honorable as it is, it is not the end of the commandment. God hath 
given this honor to love alone. Love is the end of all the commandments 
of God. Love is the end, the sole end of every dispensation of God, from 
the beginning of the world to the consummation of all things. And it will 
endure when heaven and earth flee away; for 'love' alone 'never faileth'. 
Faith will totally fail; it will be swallowed up in sight, in the everlasting 
vision of God. (Sermon 36, "The Law Established by Faith," II, l) 4 

Wesley makes the same point with other images — that faith is the door 
or the porch, while the house itself is love, and so forth. Indeed, one 
does not understand Wesley at all until one grasps the centrality of 
"love" in his thought — as the character of God in eternity, as the 
imago dei in creation, as lost in the fall, as restored in regeneration 
and sanctification, as the goal of "perfect love" in the Christian life, 
and as the fundamental characteristic of eternity when the need for 
faith has passed. 

(4) And finally we need to make an explicit contrast between the 
thought of Wesley and that of Luther. I think it is fair to notice a "dis- 
junctive" element in the thought of Luther that stands opposed to a "con- 
junctive" tendency in the thought of Wesley. By this I mean that Luther, 
perhaps in his reaction to Catholicism, tends to speak of faith or reason, 
gospel or law, scripture or tradition, faith or works, and so on, while 
Wesley speaks more naturally of faith and reason, gospel and law, scrip- 
ture and tradition, faith and works, and so on. The same point may be 
made in another way by noticing that Wesley is able to move from Gala- 
tians to James in the New Testament without feeling the tension that 
caused Luther to appropriate the former as the hermeneutical center of 
his theology while marginalizing the latter as "a right strawy epistle." 

With these comments in the background it may now be possible to 
hear with new ears a statement from Wesley that picks up many of 
these themes and hopefully reveals how Wesley should be positioned 
with regard to them. Those who know only one thing about John Wes- 
ley probably know of his "Aldersgate" spiritual experience while hear- 
ing read in a Moravian meeting words from Luther's preface to the 
epistle to the Romans. Less well-known is Wesley's reaction to Luther 

4 The quotations by Wesley are cited informally and without reference to any par- 
ticular edition in ways that will allow the citations to be found in various editions of the 
sermons and journals of Wesley — by sermon number, title and section (in the case of 
sermons) or by date (in the case of the journals). 


when he got around to reading his commentary on Galatians. The fol- 
lowing statement from his diary in 1741 (three years after Aldersgate) 
reveals how far his thought is from at least the Lutheran side of the 
continental Reformation: 

I . . . read over . . . that celebrated book, Martin Luther's Comment on 
the Epistle to the Galatians. I was utterly ashamed. How have I esteemed 
this book, only because I heard it so commended by others! Or, at best, 
because I had read some excellent sentences occasionally quoted from 
it! But what shall I say, now I judge for myself? Now I see with my own 
eyes? Why, not only that the author makes nothing out, clears up not one 
considerable difficulty; that he is quite shallow in his remarks on many 
passages, and muddy and confused almost on all; but that he is deeply 
tinctured with mysticism throughout, and hence often dangerously 
wrong. To instance only one or two points: How does he (almost in the 
words of Tauler) decry reason, right or wrong, as an irreconcilable en- 
emy to the Gospel of Christ? Whereas, what is reason, (the faculty so 
called,) but the power of apprehending, judging and discoursing? Which 
power is not more to be condemned in the gross, than seeing, hearing, or 
feeling. Again, how blasphemously does he speak of good works and of 
the law of God; constantly coupling the law with sin, death, hell or the 
Devil! and teaching that Christ delivers us from them all alike. Whereas, 
it can no more be proved from Scripture, that "Christ delivers us from 
the law of God," than he delivers us "from holiness or from Heaven." 
Here (I apprehend) is the real spring of the ground of the error of the 
Moravians. They follow Luther for better or for worse. Hence their, "No 
works; no law; no commandments." But who art thou that "speakest evil 
of the law, and judgest the law?" (Wesley, Journal, Monday, June 15, 

These comments of Wesley anticipate many of the themes which 
now follow. Let me attempt to unfold the Wesleyan understanding of 
"Gospel and Law" by providing a series of "thesis statements" with 
supporting quotations from Wesley that will indicate the major points 
that need to be made. We do not pursue each of these themes in detail, 
but together I think that they will indicate the basic shape of Wesley's 

(1) It is often assumed that anyone who puts as much weight as 
Wesley does on works and the law must be slipping into a form of 
"works righteousness" that qualifies the gratuity of grace and funda- 
mentally compromises the gospel of "salvation by faith." But it was 
his preaching on "salvation by faith" that got Wesley into much trou- 
ble. The collections of the "standard sermons" that have become 
almost the doctrinal standards of the various strands of Methodism 
begin with his sermon on "Salvation by Faith" that was preached in St. 
Mary's of Oxford just a little over two weeks after his Aldersgate expe- 
rience. Though perhaps still tinged with a Moravianism that he would 


later qualify — and still willing to laud Luther as the great champion of 
this theme, this sermon begins with the following ringing declaration 
of "salvation by grace": 

All the blessings which God hath bestowed upon man are of his mere 
grace, bounty, or favor: his free, undeserved favour, favour altogether 
undeserved, man having no claim to the least of his mercies. It was free 
grace that 'formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him 
a living soul', and stamped on that soul the image of God, and 'put all 
things under his feet'. The same free grace continues to us, at this day, 
life and breath, and all things. For there is nothing we are, or have, or 
do, which can deserve the least thing at God's hand. 'All our works thou, 
O God, hast wrought in us.' These therefore are so many more instances 
of free mercy: and whatever righteousness may be found in man, this 
also is the gift of God. 

Wesley repeatedly goes on in this sermon and elsewhere to deny the 
possibility of any form of salvation on the basis of works or of any 
other human foundation. 

(2) But perhaps Wesley's most characteristic move is to build on 
this protestant-sounding foundation a catholic doctrine of sainthood, to 
use the expression of the late Albert Outler, one of the most important 
of recent interpreters of Wesleyanism. Wesley uses the language of the 
"imputation" of the "righteousness of Christ" through "faith," but just 
as he makes faith instrumental to love, he makes this construct not the 
essence of "salvation," but the entrance to it so that the ultimate reality 
of salvation is to be found in regeneration and sanctification. Another 
way of making the same point is to notice that Wesley's understanding 
of grace is more active and transformatory in character than that of the 
magisterial reformers and especially that of Luther. Outler spoke of 
Wesley as having a "therapeutic" doctrine of grace — an understanding 
of grace that expects the "fixing" of the distortions of the fallen order 
in a way that picks up the theme of pardon and works it into the system 
in ways that lead beyond that theme to themes of restoration of the cre- 
ated order. Still another way of making this point or a similar one is 
to speak of Wesley's use (like the Pietists before him) of biological 
metaphors of birth, regeneration, growth, fruits/roots, etc. rather than 
more forensic images of position or declaration in his understanding of 
salvation. The fundamental issue for Wesley is life rather than pardon. 
Thus he can say: 

5 Outler's important work on the interpretation of Wesley is scattered in various es- 
says, but the kernel of his work may be found in his anthology, John Wesley (New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1964) and Theology and the Wesleyan Spirit (Nashville: Disci- 
pleship Resources, 1975). 


It has been frequently supposed that the being born of God was one with 
the being justified; that the new birth and justification were only differ- 
ent expressions denoting the same thing . . . But though it be allowed 
that justification and the new birth are in point of time inseparable from 
each other, yet are they easily distinguished as being not the same, but 
things of a widely different nature. Justification implies only a relative, 
the new birth a real, change. God in justifying us does something for us: 
in begetting us against he does the work in us. The former changes our 
outward relation to God, so that of enemies we become children; by the 
latter our inmost souls are changed. The one restores us to the favor, the 
other to the image of God. (Sermon 19, "The Great Privilege of Those 
that are Born of God," 1, 2) 

. . . the new birth ... is that great change which God works in the soul 
when he brings it into life: when he raises it from the death of sin to the 
life of righteousness. It is the change wrought in the whole soul by the 
almighty Spirit of God when it is 'created anew in Jesus Christ', when it 
is 'renewed after the image of God', 'in righteousness and true holiness', 
when the love of the world is changed into the love of God, pride into 
humility, passion into meekness; hatred, envy, malice, into a sincere, 
tender disinterested love for all mankind. In a word, it is that change 
whereby the 'earthly, sensual, devilish' mind is turned into 'the mind 
which was in Christ'. This is the nature of the new birth. (Sermon 45, 
"The New Birth," II, 5) 

(3) This consistently twofold character of salvation in Wesley 
(justification/new birth, justification/sanctification, salvation from the 
guilt of sin/salvation from the power of sin, what God does for us/what 
God does in us, and so on) means that he can talk about the law in two 
different moments of the Christian life. This is perhaps clearest in Wes- 
ley's famous sermon "On the Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption." This 
is a remarkable sermon in several of its key moves. In a manner remi- 
niscent of Soren Kierkegaard's Stages on Life's Way and quite unlike 
much of modern evangelicalism, Wesley suggests that humankind be 
divided into three rather than two categories. Instead of sinners and 
saints, Wesley sees three stages: the natural, the legal, and the evangel- 
ical. In the first stage one is secure in one's own sleep — blissfully 
unaware of the issues of sin that become so troublesome in the second 
stage when one has been "awakened." This is the "legal" stage because 
it represents the experience "under the law" — the spirit of bondage. In 
this stage Wesley comes close to the Reformation language of the law 
as tutor to grace in that the law exposes and drives home our sinfulness. 
But Wesley differs somewhat in how he moves from this point. He 
maintains always a positive view of the law of God; for 

. . . sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it 
slew me. It came upon me unawares, slew all my hopes, and plainly 


showed, in the midst of life I was in death. 'Wherefore the law is holy, 
and the commandment holy and just and good': I no longer lay the blame 
on this, but on the corruption of my own heart. I acknowledge that 'the 
law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.' I now see both the spir- 
itual nature of the law, and my own devilish heart, 'sold under sin', totally 
enslaved. . . . (Sermon 9, "The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption, II, 9) 

(4) This brings us more fully to the point of Wesley's consistently 
positive attitude toward the law. Where other traditions speak of "free- 
dom from the law," Wesley speaks always of "The Law Established 
Through Faith" — the title he gives to two key sermons. These two ser- 
mons follow another on "The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use of 
the Law." These three sermons are the locus classicus for understand- 
ing Wesley on the law. It may also be worth noting that these follow, 
in editions of either the forty-four or the fifty-three "standard" sermons 
of Wesley, thirteen discourses on the Sermon on the Mount where they 
seem to be placed deliberately to draw attention to that sermon as 
"law" to be followed by the Christian. In these sermons Wesley makes 
a sharp distinction between the ceremonial and the moral law. It is the 
latter (i.e., the "moral law") that Wesley celebrates and almost hypos- 
tasizes in a sense in that the law seems to become for Wesley the 
"logos" or the fundamental ontological principle of the universe. This 
is especially clear in the first of these sermons (based on the text in 
Romans 7:12: "the law is holy"). This law is grounded in eternity — 
before Moses, Noah, or Enoch — "beyond the foundation of the world." 
At creation this law is engraved on human hearts by the finger of God. 
It is revealed more clearly to Moses where it is written on tablets of 
stone. When we see this law we see that it is "an incorruptible picture 
of the high and holy one that inhabiteth eternity." It is at times iden- 
tified in language reminiscent of the "sophia" tradition of wisdom in 
the Old Testament and also with the "wisdom from above" of the book 
of James. Wesley speaks of the law as emanation from the essence of 
God and even drifts toward language that we more naturally use in a 
Christological context. The law "is 'the streaming forth' or outbeaming 
'of his glory, the express image of his person'." Or, "yea, it is the fair- 
est offspring of the Everlasting Father, the brightest efflux of his essen- 
tial wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most High." Such language has 
caused such interpreters of Wesley as Kenneth Collins to speak of 
"Wesley's Platonic Conception of the Moral Law." 

(5) With this background we can now understand why Wesley 
can describe Luther as blasphemous in his treatment of the law. For 
Wesley the law is the gospel in a very profound sense. In Wesley gos- 

6 Kenneth Collins, "Wesley's Platonic Conception of the Moral Law," Wesleyan 
Theological Journal, 21 (1986): 116-28. 


pel and law are brought together in a way that reminds us of the con- 
cept of "Torah" in Judaism at its best: the law is grace and through it 
we discover the good news of the way life is intended to be lived. In 
his fifth discourse on the Sermon on the Mount (on the text: "think not 
that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to 
destroy but to fulfil.") Wesley is quite explicit and self-conscious in 
taking this position: 

. . . there is no contrariety at all between the law and the gospel; . . . 
there is no need for the law to pass away in order to the establishing of 
the gospel. Indeed neither of them supersedes the other, but they agree 
perfectly well together. Yea, the very same words, considered in differ- 
ent respects, are parts both of the law and the gospel. If they are consid- 
ered as commandments, they are parts of the law: if as promises, of the 
gospel. Thus, 'Thou shalt love the Lord the God with all thy heart,' when 
considered as a commandment, is a branch of the law; when regarded as 
a promise, is an essential part of the gospel — the gospel being no other 
than the commands of the law proposed by way of promises. Accord- 
ingly poverty of spirit, purity of heart, and whatever else is enjoined in 
the holy law of God, are no other, when viewed in a gospel light, than so 
many great and precious promises. 

3. There is therefore the closest connection that can be conceived 
between the law and the gospel. On the one hand the law continually 
makes way for and points us to the gospel; on the other the gospel con- 
tinually leads us to a more exact fulfilling of the law. . . . We may yet 
further observe that every command in Holy Writ is only a covered 
promise. (Sermon 25, "Sermon on the Mount, V," II, 2, 3) 

This then is at least the basic outline of the understanding of the 
"law and gospel in the Wesley an tradition" — and something of an 
effort to position this understanding in the constellation of Christian 
traditions, most especially by contrast with the dominant traditions of 
the continental Reformation, at least on the more Lutheran side. In 
closing I would like to make a few suggestive points that I will not be 
able to develop in detail. But I need to make a few comments on the 
significance of what I have said for the interpretation of evangelicalism 
in general. 

(1) Obviously, from what I have said above, I believe that the 
Wesleyan tradition has much at stake in those debates that are now 
revolutionizing our reading of Paul and the New Testament in general. 
I have in mind those efforts of persons like Krister Stendahl to wrest 
the New Testament from out from under structures of interpretation 
dictated by the spiritual struggle of Luther and continued even today in 
the majority of scholarship, especially that shaped by the German 
Lutheran experience. More recently, such debates have centered 
around the efforts of E. P. Sanders to reorient the interpretation of Paul 


by his revisionist readings of Palestinian Judaism. At the center of 
these discussions is the fact that traditional scholarship has not 
sufficiently accounted for the positive statements that Paul makes about 
the law, especially in the book of Romans — the texts that Wesley 
makes the foundation of his theology of the law. This is one of the key 
points being made by Methodist James Dunn in such essays as "The 
New Perspective on Paul" and in his recent commentary on Romans. 
The dust from these debates has not yet settled, but I suspect that, as it 
does, we shall take Wesleyanism more seriously theologically and find 
therein some significant clues for understanding both Paul and the gos- 
pel itself. 

(2) I also find that the more I ponder the nature of "evangelical- 
ism" in our context, the more I am convinced that it must be under- 
stood as standing largely in the line of Wesley. By this I mean that 
contemporary evangelicalism in its dominant "convertive" piety form 
is not primarily a Reformation product, but a later development with 
roots in Pietism and Puritanism that flowered in the "evangelical reviv- 
als" of the eighteenth century. Most forms of modern evangelicalism 
that emphasize the "new birth" are characterized by this later develop- 
ment rather than by the subtle dialectic of the Lutheran doctrine of 
"justification by faith" and the simul Justus et peccator. If we are 
inclined to identify evangelicalism, for example, with modern revival- 
ism of the last two centuries, we must notice that the founder of this 
tradition, Charles Grandison Finney, was characterized by a similar 
understanding of law (though perhaps a bit more Pelagian in ten- 
dency). One has only to notice the thesis expressed in David Weddle's 
book The Law as Gospel: Revival and Reform in the Theology of 


Charles G. Finney. It is also becoming increasingly clear that more 
attention must be paid to the significance of Scottish Common Sense 
Realism for the interpretation of American evangelicalism. This philo- 
sophical school had a tendency to affirm the objective and immutable 
character of the moral law that was so a part of the ontological struc- 
ture of reality that it could be discerned universally by common sense. 
Surely, it is the cumulative effect of such traditions that have given us 
modern controversies about "moral absolutes" and polemics against 
"situation ethics." Or how else am I to explain the many sermons that 
I grew up under that warned me against various sins which violated the 

7 This essay is now available in Jesus, Paul, and the Law (Louisville, Kentucky: 
Westminster/John Knox, 1990). Useful surveys of the issue are John M. G. Barclay, 
"Paul and the Law: Observations on Some Recent Debates." Themelios 12 (September, 
1986): 5-15 and Thomas C. Geer, Jr., "Paul and the Law in Recent Discussion," Resto- 
ration Quarterly 31 (1989): 93-107. 

David Weddle, The Law as Gospel: Revival and Reform in the Theology of 
Charles G. Finney (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1985). 


moral law written in my heart — and warned that the pursuit of such 
would put me at odds with my essential nature. 

(3) If such suggestions have any validity, we must rethink the 
nature of "evangelicalism" as we traditionally interpret it. If the Wes- 
leyan tradition has a determinative role in the shaping of modern "evan- 
gelicalism," then it is not exactly a form of "traditional protestantism." 
It is rather a protest and corrective to basic themes of the Reformation 
rather than a restatement of them. Indeed, if we think of the Reforma- 
tion and the eighteenth century "evangelical revival" as dialectically 
related and mutually corrective, we may be able to avoid the "cheap 
grace" tendencies of the former and the "legalistic" tendencies of the 
latter. Soren Kierkegaard had much to say about the demonic tenden- 
cies that are manifested when correctives are isolated from that which 
they are intended to correct and made norms by themselves. 

(4) If we grasp this dialectical and corrective struggle and notice 
how it is being played out in history, we might interpret the efforts of 
the last couple of generations of "evangelical scholarship" to reassert 
the classical traditions of the Reformation as a corrective to a popular 
(and populist) "evangelicalism" profoundly shaped by forms of Wes- 
leyanism. Noticing such a dynamic might help explain the fact with 
which I began this paper — the massive suppression of the Wesleyan 
tradition in the historical and theological interpretation of modern 
"evangelicalism." This suppression has been so massive (no doubt for 
a variety of reasons) that most interpreters are not even aware of the 
Wesleyan tradition as a theological option. One of the most egregious 
illustrations of this is the book by Daniel P. Fuller, Gospel and Law: 
Contrast or Continuum? . In this volume Fuller extends his earlier cri- 
tique of dispensational hermeneutics to a similar critique of "covenant 
theology" for their emphasizing the contrast rather than the continuity 
of "gospel" and "law." But Fuller offers his solution as a new find, a 
discovery de novo, without any apparent awareness of antecedents to 
his position like the Wesleyan tradition. I am convinced that we need 
to reflect on such phenomena more than we do, because they reveal a 
sociological and cultural determination of our discussions that some- 
times prevent us from hearing the gospel in its fullness. 

Daniel P. Fuller, Gospel and Law (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980). 

Grace Theological Journal 12.2 (1991) 245-261 


Richard D. Patterson 

Perhaps the most persistent problem with regard to the unity and 
composition of the book of Daniel has been the relation of its first 
six chapters to its latter half. 1 Although several divergent views have 
been held (particularly as to the age and provenance of chapters 1 and 
7 2 ), these may presently be reduced to a widely held consensus: "The 
first six chapters of the book contain material which is older than the 
later chapters, and this material has been re-edited in Maccabean times 
to attain a redactional unity with the apocalyptic visions of chs. 7-12. 
This study will suggest that chapter 7 functions not only as a hinge 
chapter that provides unity to the two primary literary genres in Daniel, 
but plays a key role in the understanding of biblical eschatology. 

For a sample of diverse opinions, see O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament An Intro- 
duction (New York: Harper and Row, 1965) 512-19. 

2 Some have argued for these chapters as distinctive compositions, chapter 1 being 
composed as an introduction to the court tales of 2-6, and chapter 7 being viewed as an 
independent forerunner to the apocalypses of 8-12. For details, see R. K. Harrison, In- 
troduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 1106-10; J. A. Mont- 
gomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (ICC; Edinburgh: 
T. & T. Clark, 1927) 88-99; W. L. Humphreys, "A Life Style for Diaspora: A Study of 
the Tales of Esther and Daniel," JBL 92 (1973): 21 1-23. 

J. J. Collins, "The Court-tales in Daniel and the Development of Apocalyptic," 
JBL 94 (1975): 218; see also P. R. Davies, "Eschatology in the Book of Daniel," JSOT 
17 (1980): 33-53. Scholars continue to debate whether one author (see, e.g., H. H. Row- 
ley, in The Servant of the Lord and Other Essays on the Old Testament [Rev. ed.; Ox- 
ford: Blackwell, 1965] 249-80) or multiple authorship (see, e.g., H. L. Ginsberg, "The 
Composition of the Book of Daniel," VT 4 [1954]: 246-75; M. L. Delcor, Le Livre de 
Daniel [SB; Paris: Gabalda, 1971] 10-13) can best account for the final form of the 
book. A compromise position has recently been put forward by A. A. Di Leila (in L. F. 
Hartman and A. A. Di Leila, The Book of Daniel [AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1978] 
16) who suggests that an editor-compiler (= the writer of the core apocalypse of chapter 
9), utilizing the work of "several like-minded authors" was responsible for the book's 
final collection. Although the original edition was written in Aramaic, a translator may 
be assumed to have rendered l:l-2:4a; 8-12 into Hebrew and subsequently published 
the "work in its present form as a single book. The date would be ca. 140 b.c." 

4 For discussion of hinging in the Scriptures, see R. D. Patterson, "Of Bookends, 
Hinges, and Hooks: Literary Clues to the Arrangement of Jeremiah's Prophecies," WTJ 
51 (1989): 116-17. For Daniel 7 as a hinge chapter, see J. E. Goldingay, Daniel (WBC; 



The narrative of Daniel 7, though full of complex details, is simply 
told. At the onset of the reign of Belshazzar, Nabonidus' son, Daniel 
has a dream consisting of a series of nocturnal visions. Daniel sees a 
great sea being driven and tossed by the four winds of heaven. As he 
looks, four great beasts come up out of the sea, the fourth of which is a 
frightful appearing animal with iron teeth. It also has ten horns among 
which ultimately another little horn arises, breaking off three of the 
existing horns. This little horn on the fearsome and dreadful beast has 
eyes and a mouth like a man and speaks great boastful words. As he 
looks further, Daniel catches a glimpse of the Ancient of Days seated on 
his throne before the assembled courts of heaven. The record books of 
judgment are opened and the awful beast with the boastful little horn is 
destroyed. Then Daniel sees "One like a Son of Man coming with the 
clouds of heaven" (v. 13 — NIV), to whom the Ancient of Days grants an 
everlasting kingdom and authority, and before whom all men worship. 

As the account continues, Daniel, who in the previous court narra- 
tives serves as the divine interpreter to the Babylonian court (see 2:25- 
45; 4:19-27; 5:18-28), is himself overcome by the details of the awe- 
some vision and asks one of the attending angels as to the true meaning 
of what he has seen. He learns that the four beasts represent a succession 
of earthly kingdoms that ultimately will be succeeded by that inaugu- 
rated by the Most High. Upon further inquiry concerning the fourth 
beast and the little horn that spoke so boastfully, he learns that these rep- 
resent the culmination of earthly powers as concentrated in the hands of 
an evil ruler. This one will gain power through violent means and per- 
secute the saints, enacting oppressive measures aimed at subverting all 

Dallas: Word, 1989) 159. J. F. Walvoord (Daniel [Chicago: Moody, 1971] 151) rightly 
remarks: "Chapter 7 is a high point in revelation in the book of Daniel; and, in some 
sense, the material before as well as the material which follows pivots upon the detailed 
revelation of this chapter." 

5 The existence and importance of Belshazzar, once universally denounced by crit- 
ics as unhistorical, can no longer be doubted. For details, see J. P. Free, Archaeology and 
Bible History (Rev. ed.; Wheaton: Scripture Press, 1962) 233-35; G. Archer, A Survey of 
Old Testament Introduction (Rev. ed.; Chicago: Moody, 1974) 382-83. E. Yamauchi 
("The Archaeological Background of Daniel," BS 137 [1980]: 6) remarks: "A recent re- 
examination of all the relevant cuneiform data has helped clarify the chronology . . . the 
coregency of Nabonidus and Belshazzar should be dated as early as 550 and not just be- 
fore the fall of Babylon in 539." 

6 E. J. Young (The Prophecy of Daniel [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977] 141) terms 
it "a divinely imposed dream." 

7 The term "great sea" is normally assigned to the Mediterranean Sea in the Scrip- 
tures: see Goldingay, Daniel, 160; L. Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1973) 180. 


forms of traditional law and order. His time of rule, however, will be 
terminated at the sovereign direction of God who will then institute his 
rule in the midst of "the people of the Most High" (v. 27 — NIV). 

The account lays great stress on the dream itself with its fourfold 
periodization of "beastly" nations and on the culmination of that suc- 
cession in the activities of a powerful and sinister figure whose defeat 
brings the process to its consummation in the blessed rule of God 
amidst his followers. The structure of the narrative may be conve- 
niently outlined as follows: introductory setting (1), vision (2-14), 
response (15), interpretation (16-27), response (28). 

Chapter 7 has rightly been closely linked with the following mate- 
rial in chapters 8-12 for at least two reasons. (1) Like those chapters, 
chapter 7, while a dream, is also visionary in character, thus adding to 
a group of texts comprising a unit of "vision reports." Such prophetic 
pieces often partake of the more frequent "announcements of judg- 
ment" 10 and "kingdom oracles" dealing with universal judgment and 
promises of ultimate blessing. Their distinctive feature, however, is 
that they are cast in the form of a vision. Such oracles frequently 
embellish the customary Old Testament eschatological perspective of 
God's superintending culmination of earth's history with an emphasis 
on cosmic scope and supernatural beings who play an important part, 
and on the presence of a heavenly mediator/interpreter who furnishes 
needed information or interpretation. 12 (2) Much of the material that is 
sketched in preliminary form in chapter 7 is filled out in the succeeding 

E. M. Good ("Apocalyptic as Comedy: The Book of Daniel," Semeia 32 [1984]: 
57) suggests a chiastic structure to the main material in the vision: A — four beasts (v. 3), 
B — first three beasts (vv. 4-6), C — fourth beast described (vv. 7-8), D — Ancient of 
Days + court scene (vv. 9-10), C. — fourth beast killed (v. 1 1), B' — first three beasts pro- 
longed (v. 12), A' — human figure comes with clouds (vv. 13-14). 

9 On the nature of Old Testament prophecy, see my remarks in A Literary Guide to 
the Bible, eds. Leland Ryken and Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 

10 See the various discussions in C. Westermann, Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech, 
translated by H. C. White (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1991) 129-98. 

n See G. Vos, Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948) 307-18. 
C. Westermann terms such prophecies "salvation oracles"; see, e.g., Prophetic Oracles 
of Salvation in the Old Testament, translated by Keith Crim (Louisville: Westminster/ 
John Knox, 1991). 

12 The decision as to whether Daniel 7-12 can also be called apocalyptic is not an 
easy one. Thus, E. Heaton (Daniel [TBC; London: SCM, 1967] 34-35) points to the 
omission of such typical apocalyptic elements as cosmic imagery, great battle scenes, lu- 
rid descriptions of the fate of the wicked Gentiles, and highly colored pictures of a final 
kingdom, a golden age of peace, righteousness, and prosperity centered around a strong 
Messianic leader. Noting the almost total absence of such typical apocalyptic themes, 
teachings found in such apocalyptic pieces as I Enoch, the Sibylline Oracles, the As- 
sumption of Moses, and 2 Esdras, Heaton remarks; "What we find in the present work 


chapters, thus making it an integral part of the latter half of Daniel. 
These data are conveniently displayed in Table 1. 

Chapter 7 has also been linked closely by some with the court nar- 
ratives of chapters 1-6. That such a procedure is justified may be 

[Daniel] ... is not a formal apocalyptic tradition but, rather, a miscellaneous body of 
prophetic teaching and imagery about the coming kingdom of God." 

Likewise, Davies ("Eschatology," 34) feels that "the word 'apocalyptic' has been 
detrimental to the Book of Daniel," not only because the genre itself is ill-defined but be- 
cause Daniel reflects the eschatological perspective of the court tales of chapters 1 -6 as 
applied to the Maccabean crisis. 

On the other hand, scholars such as A. B. Mickelsen (Daniel and Revelation: Rid- 
dles or Realities? [Nashville: Nelson, 1984] 24-25) and J. J. Collins (The Apocalyptic 
Imagination [New York: Crossroad, 1984] 68-92) defend assigning the term "apocalyp- 
tic" to large portions of Daniel. Citing the importance of angelic activity and heavenly 
mediatorship of revelation in Daniel, as well as the explicit hope of resurrection in chap- 
ter 12, Collins ("Apocalyptic Genre and Mythic Allusions in Daniel," JSOT 21 [1981]: 
89) suggests that Daniel "has been hindered more fundamentally by the failure of schol- 
arship to examine individual works like Daniel in the context of the genre constituted by 
the corpus of apocalypses." 

Both schools of interpretation can make their point. Certainly current definitions and 
descriptions of apocalypse do allow distinctive portions of Daniel 7-12 to be viewed as 
apocalyptic. If, however, one searches for the over-emphasis on cosmic themes, cataclys- 
mic changes in the physical world and the extreme language so characteristic of later 
Jewish apocalyptic fervor, it is evident that Daniel uses such things sparingly. In any 
case, Daniel is more closely tied to mainstream eschatology with its emphasis on a sov- 
ereign God's active superintendence of the details of history so as to bring them to his 
final purposes. Daniel may, then, perhaps be better set beside such Old Testament pas- 
sages as Zeph. 1:14-18 as "emergent apocalyptic." See further my discussion in Nahum, 
Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC; Chicago: Moody, 1991) 285-88. 

13 Chapters 1-6 are customarily termed "court tales." Such stories have as their cen- 
tral plot an account of the heroic exploits of a godly exile in a foreign court. This person's 
godly walk and wisdom prove his worth in various tests. He then rises to such personal 
prominence that he is able to improve the well-being of his people or even effect their 

These narratives customarily include such elements as: (1) a specific test involving 
faith, morality, or compromise of covenantal standards, (2) the friendliness of some resident 
court official, (3) besting the foreigners in contests or conflict, and (4) an unexpected ex- 
traordinary resolution to a besetting problem. Typical biblical examples include Daniel 
(Dan 1-6), Joseph (Gen 37-50), Esther, and, to some extent, Ezra and Nehemiah. Extra- 
biblical examples may be cited in the apocryphal stories concerning Zerubbabel (I Esdras 
3-4), Tobit, and Judith, as well as the Aramaic story of Ahiqar and the Egyptian Tale of 

For details, see Collins, "Court-Tales," 218-34; J. G. Gammie, "On the Intention and 
Sources of Daniel I-VI," VT31 (1981): 282-92; Heaton, Daniel, 33-53; and Humphreys, 
"Life Style," 21 1-23. Humphreys divides such stories into two types: the court contest, in 
which the hero provides the interpretation to a seemingly insoluble problem and the court 
conflict, in which the hero's purity is rewarded with deliverance. Humphreys' twofold cat- 
egorization is perhaps the simplest way to view the court narratives. According to this ar- 
rangement, Daniel 2, 4-5 belong with the first type and Daniel 3, 6, with the second. 

14 See, for example, A. Lenglet, "La structure litteraire de Daniel 2-7," Biblica 53 
(1972): 169-90; J. Baldwin, Daniel (TOTC; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1978) 59-63. 
























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seen not only in the fact that chapter 7 shares the same language (Ara- 
maic) with 2:4b-6:28, but that, as Lenglet observes, Daniel 2-7 
"est . . . ecrit d'une maniere concentrique. Indeed, its structure is 
finely balanced, forming a neat chiastic arrangement of material, chap- 
ters 2 and 7 presenting visions of a fourfold periodization of earth's 
historical and political succession, chapters 3 and 6 depicting specific 
adventures (told in characteristic "U shaped" plot) that test the faith of 
Daniel and his three friends, and chapters 4 and 5 (the centerpiece of 
the chiasmus) relating details illustrating divine dealings aimed at try- 
ing the character of two Babylonian kings. 

Structural patterning may also be observed in the balanced pro- 
gression within the two halves (2-4; 5-7) of the chiasmus. Thus, 
chapters 2 and 5 relate Daniel's testing in the midst of the Babylonian 
wise men, chapters 3 and 6 detail the personal trials of Daniel's three 
friends, and chapters 4 and 7 involve elements of personal testimony 
with regard to the reception and understanding of revelatory dreams. In 
addition, the close relationship of chapters 4 and 5 with their stress on 
royal discipline, the fifth chapter utilizing elements narrated in the 
fourth, has often been noted. Further, the structure of chapter 7 can 
be seen to bear close affinities with the preceding court narratives, par- 
ticularly those in chapters 2, 4, and 5. A still further unifying element 
can be seen in that chapter 7, like chapters 1-6, features a court scene 
(vv. 9-10, 13-14, 26-27), this one, however, presided over by a Heav- 
enly Sovereign. These data are illustrated in Table 2. 

Building on these findings and adding a consideration of the first 
chapter, an overall view of the structure of the book emerges that 
yields a distinctive ABA pattern: 

A. Historical Introduction (1) [Hebrew] 

B. Historical Information (2-7) [Aramaic] 
A. Future Information (7, 8-12) [Hebrew] 17 

The importance of this ancient format (observable as early as the Code 
of Hammurapi ) 
by C. H. Gordon: 

of Hammurapi ) to the unity and composition of Daniel is duly noted 

Lenglet, "La structure," 188. 

16 Gammie ("Intention and Sources," 283) calls attention as well to "the extremely 
important element of 'prophecy fulfilled' ... in chapters iv and v." 

17 Note that 12:4-13 forms not only a conclusion to the vision report begun in 10:1 
but also a concluding summary with instructions that serve, together with chapter 1, to 
bookend the entire prophecy. 

18 The rendering of the name of the great Mesopotamian lawgiver with a "p" rather 
than a "b" is now certain, the ambiguous Akkadian syllable sign £3 (= bi or pi) being 
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Hammurapi's Code has a comprehensive literary form. The pro- 
logue and epilogue are in poetry, whose form is parallelistic and whose 
language is archaic. The laws in the middle, however, are in prose, so 
that the whole composition has a pattern, which we call ABA; A being 
poetry, B being prose. This has an important bearing upon other oriental 
compositions including the Bible. . . . Similarly the biblical Book of 
Daniel begins and ends in Hebrew, though the middle is in Aramaic. The 
possibility of an intentional ABA structure deserves earnest consider- 
ation and should deter us from hastily dissecting the text. 19 

Gordon's remark as to intentionality in the ABA pattern adds to the 
impression gained by noting the book's structural refinements. The 
cumulative effect has important implications for the unity and compo- 
sition of Daniel. Rather than pointing to the unifying work of a late 
redactor/compiler who stands at the end of a long line of editorial 
activity, Daniel is best explained as supporting Gooding's contention 
that "we must take seriously the book's internal proportions, as having 
been deliberately planned by the author." 

The key role of chapter 7 to the book of Daniel is thus readily 
apparent. Its central location and close correspondence with the two 
major portions make it evident that Daniel 7 is in many respects the 
key that unlocks the door to the problem of the unity, as well as the 
understanding, of the book. Baldwin remarks: "Looked at in relation to 
the Aramaic section this chapter constitutes the climax, and it is the 
high point in relation to the whole book; subsequent chapters treat only 
part of the picture and concentrate on some particular aspect of it. 

19 C. H. Gordon, The Ancient Near East (3d ed.; New York: Norton, 1965) 83-84. 
ABA structure is, of course, a familiar feature of Old Testament writing style. See 
W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry (JSOTS 26; Sheffield: University of 
Sheffield, 1986) 204-7. 

20 D. W. Gooding, "The Literary Structure of the Book of Daniel and Its Implica- 
tions," TB 32 (1981): 68. Gooding's analysis, however, proceeds along more thematic, 
rather than literary, lines so that his suggested structural arrangement differs significantly 
from the consensus of Old Testament scholarship. 

Authorial intention in the ABA structural pattern would appear to be vindicated fur- 
ther by the witness of Qumran. Contrary to the view of some scholars who hold that the 
complete Daniel was originally written in Aramaic with sections subsequently translated 
into Hebrew, manuscripts from both Cave One and Cave Four validate the change from 
Hebrew to Aramaic at 2:4b and the change from Aramaic to Hebrew at 8:1. Thus, G. Ha- 
sel ("New Light on the Book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls," Archaeology and 
Biblical Research 5 [1992]: 50) remarks: "The Hebrew/Aramaic Masoretic text of the 
book of Daniel now has stronger support than at any other time in the history of the in- 
terpretation of the book of Daniel." 

21 Baldwin, Daniel, 137. 



The strategic structural position of chapter 7 provides a key not 
only to the form of the book but to the understanding of Daniel's 
eschatology. Together with the bookending chapter of its first part 
(chapter 2), it gives a picture of earth's political future from Daniel's 
day onward. As noted above, that prophesied future falls into a four- 
fold periodization that begins with Babylon (2:36-38) and proceeds 
with generally deteriorating political cohesiveness but increasing 
ferocity through two more kingdoms to a fourth era, toward the end of 


which a fearsome leader arises. During his time, the saints will be 
sorely oppressed but God will accomplish his defeat and rule through 
his designated leader who will reign in the midst of the saints forever 
(7:13-14, 18-27). 

This general overview undergirds and circumscribes the further 
complementary revelations that follow in chapters 8—12. Particularly 
troublesome to harmonizing the data of those chapters with the basic 
format of chapters 7 and 2 is the twofold problem of ( 1 ) the identifica- 
tion of those kingdoms/eras that succeed Babylon and (2) the under- 
standing of the discussions concerning the little horn and the willful 
king that figure so prominently in chapters 8 and 1 1 . 

As for the former problem, chapter 8, which is set in the third year 
of Belshazzar, would appear to describe two kingdoms that will suc- 
ceed Babylon, kingdoms that are identified as Medo-Persia and Greece 
(vv. 20-21). The vision of this chapter also tells of the rise and fall of 
Greece's most prominent king (= Alexander the Great), the parceling 
out of his kingdom after his demise, and the subsequent rise and 
destruction of a wicked king (= Antiochus Epiphanes) who opposes 
God's people (vv. 8-12, 22-25). 

As for the latter problem, since the prediction concerning the 
wicked king (= the little horn that grew up on the he goat) at first sight 
seems to parallel that of the wicked king (= the little horn that grew up 
on the fearful beast) of chapter 7 (vv. 19-25), the question arises as to 
whether these two chapters are speaking of the same person. The 
difficulty in deciding affirmatively for such an identification is that the 

The allocating of prophetic history into episodic schemes is well known in the 
ancient Near East, being attested in the Sibylline Oracles (4:49-101) and Tobit, as well 
as in Greek, Roman, Persian, and Mesopotamian traditions. For details, see J. Baldwin, 
"Some Literary Affinities in the Book of Daniel," TB 30 (1979): 90-92; Daniel, 55; 
Goldingay, Daniel, 40-41; Di Leila, Daniel, 29-33; and J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The 
Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; Garden City: Doubleday, 1983) 1:382. 

23 For the juxtapositioning of complementary revelations as a feature of apocalyptic 
literature, see Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, 85-86. 


little horn of chapter 7 arises in the era of the fourth kingdom, while 
that in chapter 8 apparently belongs to the third. To solve that problem, 
many expositors suggest that the two-horned ram in the vision of chap- 
ter 8, representing Media and Persia, should be harmonized with the 
four kingdom sequence of chapter 7 by taking the ram as symbolizing 
two successive kingdoms. The resultant four kingdom sequence can 
therefore be understood as Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. Thus, 
Di Leila remarks: 

Whereas in ch. 2 and ch. 7 there is one symbol for the kingdom of 
the Medes and another for that of the Persians (2:39; 7:5-6), in ch. 8 
there is a single symbol, the ram, for both these kingdoms (8:3-4, 20). 
But this does not mean that the author of ch. 8 is ignorant of the "four 
kingdom" concept of the rest of the book. On the one hand, both ch. 6 
and the Book of Esther treat the Medes and the Persians as kindred peo- 
ples in a coalition (Dan 6:9, 13; Esther 1:3; 2:14, 18; etc.); while on the 
other hand, ch. 8, in which each of the two large horns of the ram sym- 
bolizes a separate kingdom (cf. vs. 20), makes a distinction between the 
"longer and more recent" horn, Persia, and "the other," Media (vs. 3). 24 

Such a decision, however, runs counter to Daniel's consistent 
symbolic scheme. For elsewhere each animal depicts a given kingdom/ 
era and, while the parts of an animal may signify different persons/ 
events/segments within a particular kingdom/era, they never appear to 
be able to be understood of entirely different kingdom/eras. Further, 
within the last vision (chapters 10-12), set in the days of the second or 
Persian kingdom (10:1), attention is focused once again on only the 
two kingdoms of Persia and Greece (11:2-4). It would appear, then, 
that while chapter 7 (combined with chapter 2) provides the basic four 
epoch prophetic framework for the future, the visions of chapters 8 and 
1 1 amplify details relative to the nearer historical scene in the days of 
the second and third kingdoms. 

24 Di Leila, Daniel, 234; see also 212-14. Actually, those who decide for the first 
and fourth kingdoms as referring to Babylon and Greece respectively are far from unan- 
imous as to the identity of the second and third kingdoms. Goldingay (Daniel, 175, 176), 
sensing the inherent difficulty in the problem and having surveyed various solutions to it, 
concludes: "It is as certain an exegetical judgment as most that the contextual meaning 
of Dan 7 is that the first empire is Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon, the fourth is Greece. 
There is less certainly about the identity of the second and third kingdoms. . . . There is 
little evidence to go on in identifying the second and third kingdoms, and each interpre- 
tation gives a slightly artificial result. This reflects two facts. First, Daniel is not really 
interested in the second and third kingdoms, and perhaps had no opinion regarding their 
identity. Second, the four-empire scheme as a whole is more important than the identifi- 
cation of its parts. Dan 7 is applying a well-known scheme to a period that has to begin 
with the exile and end with the Antiochene crisis." 


The result of these considerations is that the twofold problem can 
be solved by concluding that (1) the proper identification in the four 
kingdom periods is Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and a concluding 
fourth kingdom/era, and (2) the little horn of chapter 8 must "be distin- 
guished from the little horn of chapter 7, which came up among the ten 
horns of the indescribable beast. Though they have a superficial simi- 
larity, there are many differences between them and they do not belong 
to the same era.' 

It may be added that the fourth of these kingdoms/eras most likely 


began with Rome and stretches on to the divinely instituted kingdom. 
The appearance of the figure of a little horn in both the third and fourth 
kingdoms indicates that the person involved in the third (unanimously 
identified as Antiochus Epiphanes) stands either as a type or prophetic 
precursor to his antitype in the fourth kingdom. Thus, chapter 8 can be 
viewed as "historically fulfilled in Antiochus, but to varying degrees 
foreshadowing typically the future world ruler who would dominate 


the situation at the end of the times of the Gentiles' or by seeing 
chapter 8 as prophetic fulfillment without consummation. Consistency 
of approach also predisposes one to treat chapter 1 1 in similar fashion. 
Baldwin rightly affirms: 

There are reasons for thinking that, although the chapter finds its 
first fulfillment in the character and reign of Antiochus IV, the matter 
does not stop there. Notice that (i) there are details which do not apply 
to Antiochus if our information about him from other sources is accu- 
rate, (ii) The emphasis throughout is less on the king's deeds than on his 
character which prompts his deeds, (iii) The account keeps returning to 
the persecution which will be directed against the godly people and the 
covenant, (iv) Throughout the book the proud are manifestly brought 
low or suddenly cut out of the picture by death. God's sovereign way of 

25 Baldwin, Daniel, 24. 

26 The overwhelming consensus of Jewish and Christian interpreters holds to a four 
kingdom sequence culminating in Rome. See the helpful excursus of C. F. Keil, Biblical 
Commentaiy on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954) 245-68. 

27 Walvoord, Daniel, 196. Many expositors suggest that chapter 8 prophesies 
events relative to both Antiochus Epiphanes and the Antichrist. Thus, Wood (Daniel, 
223) "sees the angel Gabriel as now giving the meaning of the vision by showing, not 
only the significance involving Antiochus of ancient history, but also that of the one 
whom Antiochus foreshadowed, the Antichrist of future history. That is, Antiochus' op- 
pression is seen to provide a partial fulfillment of the prophetic vision, but that of the 
Antichrist the complete fulfillment." 

An interesting parallel may be seen in D. L. Turner's conclusion ("The Structure and 
Sequence of Matthew 24:1-41: Interaction with Evangelical Treatments," GTJ 10 
[1989]: 16-17) that our Lord's discussion of the interpretation of Daniel's prophecy con- 
cerning the abomination of desolation (Matt 24:15-28) relates both to the a.d. 70 de- 
struction of Jerusalem and to the eschatological Antichrist. 


bringing this about is a marked emphasis in the case of Nebuchadrezzar, 
Belshazzar, Alexander and his successors, (v) These rulers become pro- 
gressively more anti-God as the book draws to its conclusion, (vi) The 
chapter takes up the point made in 8:17, where the vision was 'for the 
time of the end'. 28 

One final problem within the book of Daniel has to do with the rela- 
tion of the framework of chapter 7 to the prophecy of the seventy weeks 
in 9:24-27. Final interpretation of this passage has eluded the best 
efforts of expositors of all ages. Indeed, Montgomery calls it the "Dis- 
mal Swamp of O.T. criticism." The many diverse views and the multi- 
faceted interpretative problems resident in the passage need not be 
rehearsed here. For our purposes, it can simply be pointed out that by 
remembering that 9:24-27 is set in a context largely made up of apoc- 
alyptic literature and by allowing chapter 7 to exercise its full regulatory 
constraints on all subsequent chapters in the book, a satisfactory har- 
monization of all the data in chapters 7-12 (as well as chapter 2) can be 
achieved. The resultant picture is demonstrated in Table 3. 

28 Baldwin, Daniel, 199-200. Many commentators suggest that the shift from Anti- 
ochus Epiphanes to the future wicked ruler comes at 11:36. See, e.g., Walvoord, Daniel, 
270-80; Wood, Daniel, 304-14; and R. D. Culver, Daniel and the Latter Days (New 
York: Revell, 1954) 163-71. Culver (167) takes a reverse approach in observing, "So, 
while I feel that Antiochus' career (chapter 8, 11:21-35) is adumbrative of Antichrist's, it 
also appears that the prophecy of Antichrist (11:36-45) may be reflected backward to 
Antiochus. To one acquainted with the technique of the prophets this will not appear 
strange. It is one of the commonest of phenomena to find events of similar nature, but 
separated widely in time, united in one prophetic oracle." 

29 Montgomery, Daniel, 400. Montgomery concludes his long discussion of the 
passage (372-401) by affirming: "The trackless wilderness of assumptions and theories 
in the efforts to obtain an exact chronology fitting into the history of Salvation, after 
these 2,000 years of infinitely varied interpretations, would seem to preclude any use of 
the 70 Weeks for the determination of a definite prophetic chronology." 

30 The position taken here takes into account the full weight of the symbolism of 
the numbers seventy and seven so prevalent in the Old Testament and the intertestamen- 
tal literature. The apocalyptic nature of this portion of Daniel lends further expectation 
to a symbolic use of numbers here (and in varying degrees throughout chapters 7-12). 
See M. S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988 reprint) 20-21; D. S. 
Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (Philadelphia: Westminster, 
1964) 195-202; L. Morris, Apocalyptic (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 34-37. 

The passage may be conveniently divided into "seven weeks," capped by the com- 
ing of Messiah, "sixty-two weeks" of Israelite history, and a final "seventieth week" of 
great affliction for Israel. This latter "week" is dominated by the appearance of the Anti- 
christ, whose godless and oppressive tactics are terminated when God's decreed end is 
levied upon him. For a similar division of the seventy weeks, but with different conclu- 
sions, see M. Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon, 
1985) 482-87. 

The approach suggested here has three benefits. (1) It avoids the problems inherent 
in finding the seventy weeks of years either as fulfilled in Christ or as punctuated with an 












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Because Daniel was an heir to a long tradition of mainstream pro- 
phetic activity, with which he often interacted (e.g., cf. Jer. 25:8-14; 
29:10-14 with Dan. 9), his own prophetic outlook can be taken as nor- 
mative when attempting to determine Hebrew eschatological perspec- 
tive near the end of the Old Testament revelation. Indeed, it must 
provide the framework for such important prophesied events as the 
regathering of Israel, the period of Israel's persecution involved in the 
teachings concerning the Day of the Lord, the great final battles of 
earth's history, the coming and reign of Messiah, and the everlasting 
felicity of God's people. The key role of chapter 7, so important to the 
full teaching of Daniel, thus gains wider significance as an interpreta- 
tive key for Old Testament eschatology. 

The limited corpus of subsequent Old Testament revelation makes 
specific examples of the use of Daniel 7 by later authors to be scanty at 
best. The influence of Daniel 7, however, may possibly be felt in 
Zechariah's report of a night vision (cf. Dan 7:7, 13 with 2:19) featur- 
ing the number four (Dan 7:2-3; Zech 1:8; cf. 6:1-8). It is interesting 
to note that much like Daniel's night vision, which bookends the chias- 
tically designed section of Aramaic court narratives, Zechariah's vision 
reports are arranged in chiastic form. Moreover, much like Daniel (7- 
12), Zechariah makes great use of apocalyptic and groups his vision 
reports together anthologically (1-6, 9-12). Zechariah's editorial deci- 
sion may possibly have been directly influenced by Daniel. 

While the unquestioned instances of the continued use of Daniel 7 
during the intertestamental era are few (but note such important cases 
as I Enoch 69:26-71:17; 90:9-13a, 20-27; Sibylline Oracles 3:388- 
400; Testament of Joseph 19:6-12; 1QM 17:6-8), 32 the fact that this 
chapter provides a quarry from which many exegetical stones have been 
hewn by writers of the Christian era demonstrates that its influence 

indeterminable gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks for which there is no 
exegetical justification. (2) It keeps the Jewish perspective in focus! (3) It allows the full 
weight of biblical evidence and apocalyptic literary interpretation to be felt. The time 
perspective of Daniel is thus one of chronography, not chronology. 

31 If the proposed Danielic influence on Zechariah is allowable, it further strengthens 
the contention that apocalyptic had likely already emerged by the days traditionally asso- 
ciated with Daniel, the sixth century B.C. Having arisen out of eschatological prophecy, the 
apocalyptic form was thus an inner- Jewish development that reached the full status as a 
genre in the Intertestamental Period. Note (though he assigns a late date to Daniel) the 
similar concession by D. Aune (Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediter- 
ranean World [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983] 112): "Prophecy appears to have gradu- 
ally merged into apocalyptic. . . . Apocalyptic is therefore an inner- Jewish development." 

32 Many of the themes and images in Daniel 7 do occur often, such as God's fiery 
throne, the "Holy Ones," "One like a Son of Man," and the ten horns. 


must have continued to have been felt. Certainly the Lord Jesus 
employs it in his Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:29-31; cf. Mark 13:26-27; 
Luke 21:25-28). Referring to Daniel 7:13-14 and linking it with 
Zechariah 12:10-12, he points out that these prophecies find their con- 
summation as he, the Son of Man, comes in splendor and power on the 
clouds of heaven to gather the elect from all quarters, much to the con- 
sternation of the unbelievers of earth. In his final appearance before the 
Sanhedrin (Matt 26:64; cf. Mark 14:62; Luke 22:20), Jesus again draws 
upon Daniel 7:13, this time combining it with Psalm 110:1. Here he 
uses the Old Testament to emphasize his rightful place not only as the 
expected King Messiah, but as the sovereign judge. 

It is in the Apocalypse, however, that the weight of Daniel 7 is 
more keenly felt. In a thorough study of the influence of the book of 
Daniel upon the book of Revelation, Beale demonstrates that Daniel 7 
is the controlling source for large portions of Revelation (e.g., 1:4-7, 
11-12; 4:1-5:14 [especially 5:2-14]; 13:1-8, 11-18; 17:5-16a). 34 It 
is particularly important to note the use and crucial placement of Rev- 
elation 13 and 17 in the structure of the book. After the prologue (1:1- 
8) and section dealing with the seven letter scrolls (1:9-3:22), the 
majority of the book is devoted to a discussion of the heavenly scroll 
(4:1-22:5). During the course of heavenly worship (4), a sealed scroll 
is seen in God's hand that none is found worthy to open except the vic- 
torious Lamb (5). Before the scroll can be read, each of the seven seals 
is opened (6:1-8:1) and seven trumpets are sounded (8:2-11:19). Now 
the message of the scroll can be received. It is an awesome message of 
the apparent reign of evil for a period of time, an era in which God's 
people will be sorely afflicted. Ultimately, however, the Messiah King, 
Jesus Christ, descends with his armies to defeat and judge the forces of 
evil, reign in triumph for a thousand years, and then, having put down 
a last Satanic insurgency, rules over a new heaven and earth. 

The record of events on the scroll itself is presented in two stages 
termed signs, the first depicting general conditions (12-14) and the 
second describing specific events (15:1-22:5). The material drawn 
from Daniel 7 figures prominently under each of the signs. Chapter 13 
tells of the rise and reign of terror of the Antichrist; chapter 17 iden- 
tifies the location of his base of operations. In these chapters many of 
the themes and much of the phraseology of Daniel 7 may be found, 

33 In addition to New Testament examples may be noted Sibylline Oracles 4; Apoc- 
alypse of Elijah 2; 5; 2 Esdras 12:10-12; 2 Baruch 39:5-8; 4 Ezra 12:10-39; 13:l-13a; 
I Enoch 46-47 (though the date is disputed, much as the case of 69:26-71:17). 

G. K. Beale, The Use of Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Rev- 
elation of St. John (New York: University Press of America, 1984) 154-267. Helpful 
summaries of Beale's research can be found on pp. 170-77; 202-3; 222-28; 244-48; 


such as the appearance of a dreadful ten horned beast (Rev 13:1-2; 
17:3) who boasts great things and blasphemes God (Rev 13:2, 7, 25; 
17:14) and opposes the saints (Rev 13:7; 17:6) and who has supreme 
authority for three and a half years (Rev 13:5). Noting these and other 
allusions to Daniel 7, Beale remarks: 

These parallels demonstrate a close association between chaps. 13 
and 17, and are striking especially because most are the result of Daniel 
7 influence. Our proposal that Daniel 7 is the controlling pattern for 
Revelation 17 receives more support in that chap. 13 exhibits the clear- 
est Danielic Vorbild in Revelation (especially in 13:1-8, from which all 
but one of the above parallels are found). 35 

It is of crucial importance to note that in detailing the events of 
these future end-time days, John draws upon the material presented 
under Daniel's predictions relative to the fourth kingdom/era. Thus it 
may be seen that Daniel's fourth kingdom/era prophesies not of Greece 
(as suggested by many), which, of course, was past by the time when 
John wrote the Revelation, but of Rome. However, this era stretches 
beyond historic Rome through all its successors on to the distant 
period of the Great Tribulation and beyond. John's use of the material 
and format of Daniel 7 to portray the events of the future Tribulation 
Period and following reinforces the view which holds that the deeds 
first enacted historically under Antiochus Epiphanes will be reenacted 
in even more savage degree by the Antichrist. Keil rightly observes: 

Antiochus, in his conduct towards the Old Testament people of 
God, is only the type of Antichrist, who will arise out of the ten king- 
doms of the fourth world-kingdom (ch. vii.24) and be diverse from 
them, arrogate to himself the omnipotence which is given to Christ, and 
in this arrogance will put himself in the place of God. 

The sameness of the designation given to both of these adversaries 
of the people of God, a "little horn," not only points to the relation of 
type and antitype, but also, as Kliefoth has justly remarked, to "inten- 
tional and definite" " parallelism between the third world-kingdom (the 
Macedonian) and the fourth (the Roman). 


The broad use made of Daniel 7 by the extra-biblical authors as 
well by Jesus and John testifies to its continuing influence and its 
importance to future expectations. Daniel 7, then, provides an impor- 
tant setting for biblical eschatology. 

35 Beale, Use of Daniel, 267. 
36 Keil, Daniel, 260-62. 



Because all of the Bible is God's inspired objectively verifiable 
revelation, all of it is important. Nevertheless, it is obvious that certain 
verses, passages, and books provide distinctive keys to the arrange- 
ment and understanding of given portions or of the Scriptures in their 

The seventh chapter of Daniel takes its place among these scrip- 
tural keys. Not only is it the key to the structure of the book but it pro- 
vides the framework by which the prophecies of Daniel may be 
understood. Further, facets of its eschatology remained normative for 
both subsequent orthodox Judaism and Christianity. While additional 
details beyond Daniel's purview have been added in the New Testa- 
ment revelation, its epochal orientation and predicted events remain as 
basic tenets of biblical eschatology. 

It is, then, a key chapter. As such it provides a meeting place for 
Jews and Christians, although each may differ on matters of soteriol- 
ogy. For both look forward to that day when after the Tribulation that 
stands near the end of this age, the Messiah and our Lord shall reign in 
the midst of his people over a refreshed and glorified earth forever. 

I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming 
with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was 
led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign 
power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. 
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his 
kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. 

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord 
and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." 37 

37 Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 11:15 (NIV). 

Grace Theological Journal 12.2 (1992) 263-277 




David L. Turner 


Distinguished church historian and apologist John Gerstner's formal 
entrance into debate with dispensationalists began in 1982 with the 
publication of his Primer on Dispensationalism? Though converted 
through the witness of a dispensationalist, Gerstner soon afterward 
began what has become a fifty year career advocating reformed theol- 
ogy. Concern over questions about dispensational antinomianism led to 
his Primer. Now the lordship salvation controversy has rekindled his 
interest and led to his conviction that there has been no essential change 
in dispensationalism. According to Gerstner, "Dispensationalism today, 
as yesterday, is spurious Calvinism and dubious evangelicalism." 3 To 
demonstrate this thesis, he surveys the history of dispensationalism in 
65 pages. Next he critiques dispensationalism's philosophy and herme- 
neutics in 28 pages. The bulk of his book, the remaining 172 pages, 
addresses dispensational theology. 

J. I. Packer, for one, agrees with Gerstner. He praises Gerstner's 
"skill and thorough knowledge." Speaking of a gulf between dispensa- 
tionalism and Calvinism, Packer applauds Gerstner's proof that the two 
systems are "radically opposed." 4 Along similar lines R. C. Sproul's 
foreword lauds Gerstner as a "world-class historian" whose charges 

'John H. Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth (Brentwood, TN: Wolge- 
muth and Hyatt, 1991). Hereafter cited as WDWT. For other substantial reviews see R. L. 
Mayhue, "Who is Wrong? A Review of John Gerstner's Wrongly Dividing the Word of 
Truth," The Master's Seminary Journal 3 (1992) 73-94; T. Wells "Wrongly Dividing the 
Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism: A Review ," Reformation Today (Jan- 
Feb 1992) 25-32; J. A. Witmer, "A Review of Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth" 
BSac 149 (1992) 131-45; 259-76. 

2 John H. Gerstner, Primer on Dispensationalism (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian 
and Reformed, 1982). 

3 WDWT, 2. 

4 WDWT, dust jacket. 


are delivered with "pinpoint accuracy." According to Sproul there are 
only two alternatives. If Gerstner is right, dispensationalism "should 
be discarded as being a serious deviation from Biblical Christianity," 
but if he is wrong, "he owes many a profound apology. 

Readers should not minimize the seriousness of this book's charges. 
If Sproul's foreword is correct, dispensationalism is the "majority report" 
among American evangelicals. And if Gerstner is correct, dispensation- 
alism may not even be worthy of the label "evangelical." Thus Gerstner, 
along with his two prominent endorsers, evidently believe and charge 
that the majority of American evangelicals may not be evangelicals at all. 

In response to this charge I have first engaged in a running com- 
mentary on Gerstner's arguments as he presents them in the book. Then 
I have synthesized what I believe to be serious weaknesses in the argu- 
ment. I have attempted to engage Gerstner cordially because I hold 
him in high regard as a distinguished Christian scholar. This is not a 
debate to be won at all costs. Rather it is a family discussion in the 
body of Christ (2 Tim 2:24). 


Part One: Historical Sketch of Dispensationalism 

Here four chapters chronicle the historical antecedents of dispen- 
sationalism, its early history in England, its development in the U.S.A., 
and its influence upon reformed churches. The discussion of the ques- 
tion of dispensationalism in the early church rightly points out that dis- 
pensationalists have at times overstated their case. But Gerstner seems 
to weaken his own case by the use of guilt by association (Many heretics 
were chiliasts.) and by understating the presence of premillennialists in 
the early church. As the discussion proceeds into the post-reformation 
period, Gerstner makes three blanket assertions which are at least ques- 
tionable. He believes that dispensationalists always deny the binding 


nature of the OT sabbath commandment. He also states that dispensa- 
tional futurist interpretation of the book of Revelation uniformly takes 
everything from chapter four to the end of the book as yet to be 
fulfilled. Third, he asserts that eschatology is not the most important 
element in dispensationalism. 

Chapter two on the British backgrounds of dispensationalism is an 
unremarkable and unobjectionable sketch of the Plymouth Brethren 

5 WDWT, ix, xi. 

6 WDWT, ix. 

7 WDWT, 9-10. For other examples of guilt by association cf. x, 69, 99. 

*WDWT, 15. 

9 WDWT, 17. 

"dubious evangelicalism"? A RESPONSE 265 

movement. Gerstner grants that men like J. N. Darby and William 
Kelly were gifted, but adds that their minds were narrowed by their 
theological views. 

Chapter three addresses dispensationalism in the U.S.A. Here Gerst- 
ner begins to be more polemical in emphasis. He remarks that dispensa- 
tional literature is usually in the form of pamphlets written in "not very 
profound language." 11 He is skeptical of what he perceives as the abun- 
dant statements in dispensational literature which indicate that Bible 
study alone led people into dispensationalism. His sarcastic response to 
a statement by A. C. Gaebelein seems out of place in the context of 
scholarship, let alone scholarly discussion among evangelicals. 13 

His discussion of recent developments in American dispensation- 
alism focuses on Dallas Seminary, where he finds the appearance of 
movement away from Scofield and Chafer. However, Zane Hodges' 
publications on the gospel are taken as outspoken traditional dispen- 
sational counter measures to such a movement. It appears here that 
Gerstner overestimates the scope and importance of Hodges' work as it 
relates to contemporary dispensationalism as a whole. No disrespect to 
Hodges, but he is not the champion of dispensationalism which Gerst- 
ner makes him out to be. Gerstner also observes that many Dallas pro- 
fessors are Dallas graduates, which indicates to him that Dallas is 
closed to unsafe outside influences. 15 However, the presence of alumni 
on the faculty of institutions of higher education is certainly not lim- 
ited to Dallas Seminary. And it might be added that many of those Dal- 
las professors received their terminal degrees from other institutions 
which are not even remotely dispensational. 

Later in this chapter Gerstner alludes to dispensationalism's teach- 
ing on the inviolability of God's land promises to Israel. Accusing dis- 
pensationalists of ignoring "the clear teaching" of the OT that Israel 
must obey its covenantal requirement of obedience, Gerstner states that 
the "return of the Jews to Palestine in unbelief hardly fulfills such a Bib- 
lical requirement." Though some sensationalists may have implied 
this, credible spokesmen for mainstream dispensationalism teach that 
Israel's presence in the land must be accompanied by faith in Jesus the 
Messiah in order for prophecy to reach its goal. 

The fourth and last chapter in part one is about dispensationalism's 
influence upon reformed churches. Viewing dispensationalism as a 

l0 WDWT, 29. 

U WDWT, 38, 52. 

l2 WDWT, 39. 

13 WDWT, 44, n. 19. 

U WDWT, 47. 

15 WDWT, 47. 

16 WDWT, 55; cf. 183, 207-8. 


threat to the reformed faith, Gerstner admits that it infiltrated the 
reformed community by allying with it against modernism, both in the 
days of the publication of The Fundamentals and more recently in con- 
nection with the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Neverthe- 
less, a "dispensational Presbyterian" is a contradiction in terms for 
Gerstner. Therefore Presbyterians like J. H. Brookes, W. G. Moore- 
head, D. G. Barnhouse, Wilbur Smith, Carl Mclntire, Allan MacRae, 
and J. M. Boice are either insincere or ignorant of the incompatibility of 
dispensationalism and reformed confessions of faith. In relating a story 
about Wilbur Smith and D. G. Barnhouse, Gerstner becomes enmeshed 
in a contradiction. After stating that dispensationalists believe the 
Lord's Prayer is not intended for today, he notes that dispensationalists 
Smith and Barnhouse disagreed on whether it should be recited in 
church. It would seem that either some dispensationalists do not fit 
Gerstner's rigid description of dispensationalism or that Gerstner's 
description is erroneous. Evidently Gerstner is unaware of Martin's arti- 
cle which demonstrated that dispensational views of the Sermon on the 
Mount (including the Lord's Prayer) cannot be stereotyped. 18 

Dispensationalism and premillennialism are sharply distinguished 
in Gerstner's discussion: "Dispensationalism is antithetically opposed to 
premillennialism properly understood. . . . Premillennialism is merely 
an eschatology while dispensationalism is a theological system which 
includes 'premillennialism.' " Gerstner is willing to own premillennial- 
ism as a viable option for orthodox Christians, but he disowns dispen- 
sationalism as a system "in constant deviation from essential historic 

There are two problems here, the first logical and the second 
semantical. First, it is hard to understand how the deviant dispensa- 
tional system can include an orthodox eschatology (which is antitheti- 
cally opposed to it!) and still be in constant deviation from historic 
Christianity. Second, it would seem to me that most dispensationalists 
do view their position as an eschatological view resulting from a 
hermeneutical approach, not as a comprehensive scheme of systematic 
theology. No doubt traditional dispensational eschatology is connected 
with other viewpoints, such as the Israel/Church distinction, but it nev- 
ertheless is fundamentally a variation of generic premillennial escha- 
tology. It is a way of construing the biblical theology of progressive 
revelation. It is more of a hermeneutical approach to scripture than a 
grid of dogmatic conclusions from scripture. In the U.S.A. dispensa- 
tionalism flourished across denominational lines through the prophetic 

17 WDWT, 60. 

l *WDWT, 60; cf. 187-88. But see John Martin, "Dispensational Approaches to the 
Sermon on the Mount," in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, ed. S. Toussaint and 
C. Dyer (Chicago: Moody, 1986) 35-48. 

l9 WDWT, 68; cf. 105. 

"dubious evangelicalism"? A RESPONSE 267 

conference movement. Today at meetings of dispensational scholars 
held in connection with the Evangelical Theological Society, many 
theological systems and denominations are represented. Thus Gerst- 
ner's point is dubious at best, and the bulk of his book which addresses 
dispensationalism as if it were a monolithic comprehensive confes- 
sional system is fundamentally flawed. 

Part Two: Philosophy and Hermeneutics 

In this rather brief section of the book Gerstner devotes two chap- 
ters to philosophy, apologetics, and hermeneutics. The thesis of these 
chapters seems to be that "dispensationalism is rather short on theory 
and long on practice." Nevertheless, Gerstner believes that dispensa- 
tionalism says far more about hermeneutics than is necessary, raising 
"a virtual non-issue to a level of prime importance." How dispensa- 
tionalism can be both short on theory and say too much about herme- 
neutics is unclear. Gerstner makes no mention of a recent major 

9 1 

hermeneutics textbook written by dispensationalist Elliott Johnson. 

In the chapter on philosophy Gerstner believes that dispensational- 
ists are less academically inclined than nondispensationalists. He inter- 
prets the perceived silence of dispensationalists in this area as an 
intentional avoidance of this subject. 22 In the area of apologetics Gerst- 
ner is aware of Norman Geisler's thomism and John Whitcomb's pre- 
suppositionalism. No friend of Cornelius Van Til's presuppositionalism, 
Gerstner identifies it with fideism and notes that dispensationalists tend 
not to embrace it. He goes on to say that presuppositionalists are thor- 
oughgoing Calvinists and do not believe that dispensationalists are 
authentically Calvinistic. Gerstner is evidently unaware of several arti- 
cles by dispensationalists which support presuppositional apologetics. 
By his logic his own adherence to non-presuppositional "classical" 
apologetics is suspect, given his Calvinism. 

In the chapter on hermeneutics Gerstner critiques dispensational- 
ism for its insistence that its theology is a product of its hermeneutics, 
not vice versa. He also coins the pejorative term " spoof texting" to 
describe dispensational hermeneutics. He is particularly critical of 
dispensationalism's "literal" hermeneutic, its charge that covenantalists 

20 WDWT, 73. 

21 Elliott Johnson, Expository Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990). 

22 WDWT, 76, 78. Cf. 192 for another unfair accusation that silence amounts to in- 
tentional avoidance. 

23 James M. Grier, "The Apologetic Value of the Self Witness of Scripture," GTJ 1 
(1980) 71-76; David L. Turner, "Cornelius Van Til and Romans 1:18-21," GTJ 2 (1981) 
45-58; George J. Zemek Jr., "Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense: A Review Ar- 
ticle," GTJ 7 (1986) 111-23; and Stephen R. Spencer, "Fideism and Presuppositional- 
ism," GTJ 8 (1987) 89-99; and "Is Natural Theology Biblical?" GTJ 9 (1988) 59-72. 

24 WDWT, 83, 99. 


"spiritualize" the Bible, and its distinctive approach to biblical proph- 
ecy. He argues that dispensational theology has determined its literal 
hermeneutic. 25 At this point there is a great deal of truth in Gerstner's 
argument. However, what he argues against dispensationalism could 
just as easily be argued against covenantalism. It is inescapable that 
one's theology will influence one's hermeneutics. This recognition of 
the reality of the hermeneutical circle (or better, spiral) should cause 
Gerstner and dispensationalists alike to avoid triumphalistic epithets 
such as "wooden literalism" and "spiritualizing." Gerstner evidently is 
not aware that recent dispensational publications no longer take the 
hermeneutical tack which he opposes. 

Part Three: Theology 

In this, the largest section of the book, Gerstner devotes seven 
chapters to argue that dispensationalism is spurious Calvinism and 
dubious evangelicalism. Under the heading of spurious Calvinism 
Gerstner arrays a host of charges reflecting his view that dispensa- 
tionalism is semi-Pelagian or Arminian in essence. According to him, 
Calvinism is "consistent Christianity" or "just another name for Chris- 
tianity." Therefore evangelical Arminianism is labelled "inconsistent 
Christianity." Be that as it may, even more serious are Gerstner's 
charges that dispensationalism is "dubious evangelicalism." 28 Thus 
dispensationalism, along with Arminianism, may not even be worthy 
of the label "evangelical." Gerstner is particularly exercised by the 
lordship salvation controversy, which he styles as traditional dispensa- 
tional antinomianism versus inconsistent dispensational advocates of 
lordship. 29 

According to chapter seven on spurious Calvinism, dispensation- 
alists claim to hold four of the five points of Calvinism but actually 
hold none of them. Gerstner asserts that dispensationalism "specifi- 
cally rejects the doctrine of limited atonement." 30 In response to these 
assertions two statements can be made. First, there are dispensational- 
ists who would not claim to hold any of the five points of Calvinism; 
many dispensationalists are unashamedly Arminian in theology. Sec- 
ond, there are certain dispensationalists, myself included, who hold 
Calvinistic theology, including limited atonement. The upshot of these 

25 WDWT, 87, 98, 101, 200. 

26 David L. Turner, "The Continuity of Scripture and Eschatology: Key Hermeneu- 
tical Issues," GTJ 6 (1985) 275-78. 
21 WDWT, 103, 107. 
2$ WDWT, 103, 149. 
29 WDWT, 209-59. 
30 WDWT, 105, 118. 

"dubious evangelicalism"? A RESPONSE 269 

two observations is that Gerstner's view of dispensationalism as a 
monolithic confessional system is mistaken. 

Gerstner also seems to think that dispensationalists deny the 
imputation of the guilt of Adam's sin and the spiritual inability which 
accompanies that imputation. 31 To prove this he puts his own words on 
the lips of J. D. Pentecost after pedantically dissecting a statement by 
Pentecost which is capable of being interpreted very differently than 
Gerstner interprets it. He goes on to assert that dispensationalists do 
not believe in limited atonement, irresistible grace, or the perseverance 
of the saints. No doubt there are some dispensationalists who do not 
hold these doctrines, but it is just as clear that many do. 

Gerstner's argument against what he perceives to be dispensation- 
alism reveals some disturbing facts about his own brand of Calvinism. 
It comes out that Gerstner, against Murray and Stonehouse and Hoe- 
kema 34 among others, does not believe in the free offer of the gospel to 
all people indiscriminately. Instead he holds that the well meant offer 
of the gospel is given only to the elect, a position outside the main- 
stream of reformed theology as represented in most confessions and 
textbooks. He opts for the rigorous supralapsarianism of Herman 
Hoeksema and the Protestant Reformed Church instead of the main- 
stream Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Christian Reformed Church. 
This fact implicitly weakens Gerstner's argument, since he shows him- 
self to be at odds not only with dispensationalists but with most 
reformed theologians as well. It is also noteworthy that this indicates 
that reformed theologians are not in agreement on every point. Never- 
theless, Gerstner usually assumes that all dispensationalists agree on 
every point. 

Chapter seven on spurious Calvinism concludes with a table 
which purportedly contrasts the five points of Calvinism with dispensa- 
tionalism. At each point dispensationalism is represented as tradi- 
tional Arminianism. The table reads much like a summary of the 
debate of the remonstrants with the reformed theologians at the famed 

3l WDWT, 108-9. 

32 WDWT, 109-10. 
E.g., on the matter of the imputation of Adam's sin see Lewis Sperry Chafer, Sys- 
tematic Theology (Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1947) 2.296-315; Charles M. Home, Salva- 
tion (Chicago: Moody, 1971) 10; and Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine 
(Chicago: Moody, 1972) 111-12. 

34 John Murray and Ned Stonehouse, The Free Offer of the Gospel (Phillipsburg, 
NJ: Lewis J. Grotenhuis, n.d.). This study was presented as a committee report to the 
Fifteenth General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1948. Cf. Anthony 
Hoekema's discussion of the gospel call in Saved by Grace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1989) 68-79. 

35 WDWT, 119, 27-31; 67, 77. 

36 WDWT, 147. 


Synod of Dort in the Netherlands in 1618-19. No doubt some who 
hold dispensational eschatology hold Arminian soteriology. However, 
speaking as one who has studied at two dispensational institutions and 
who has taught at three such institutions, I have never been taught and 
have never myself taught (1) that people are able of themselves to 
receive the gospel offer, (2) that election is based on foreseen faith, 

(3) that people of themselves choose to believe in Christ, and that 

(4) the "old nature" is unaffected by the new nature and continues to 
operate sinfully until death. I have been taught but have not myself 
taught that the atonement was designed to save every person. Many 
dispensationalists do prefer to call themselves "four point Calvinists" 
because of their reluctance to accept limited atonement. So in this area 
alone Gerstner avoids caricaturization. But on the other four points 
misrepresentation has occurred. Gerstner fails to demonstrate that dis- 
pensationalism is essentially Arminian. Be that as it may, it must also 
be said that the larger issue is whether dispensationalism is a theologi- 
cal system or an eschatology. Gerstner believes that dispensationalism 
is an Arminian theological system. I would argue rather that dispensa- 
tionalism is a type of premillennial eschatology which is held by 
Arminians and Calvinists alike. 

Chapters eight, nine, and ten argue as a unit that dispensational- 
ism denies the gospel by its teaching on dispensations, its view of the 
kingdom offer to Israel, and its view of Israel and the Church. Gerstner 
believes that dispensationalism is in blatant opposition to the gospel. 37 
He makes it quite clear that in his view dispensationalism "has 
departed from Christianity. . . . cannot be called Christian. ... is a 
cult. ... It is impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation." 
True, Gerstner puts all these charges in a conditional mode: — if dispen- 
sationalism has done what Gerstner charges it has done, it has departed 
from Christianity, etc. But there is no doubt that Gerstner believes that 
dispensationalism has actually done what he accuses it of. doing and 
thus has actually departed from Christianity. Why else would it be 
"impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation"? 

Chapter eight addresses the question of the definition of a dispen- 
sation. The heart of Gerstner's argument seems to run like this: despite 
disclaimers by dispensationalists, their system introduces multiple 
ways of salvation into biblical theology. 39 Their protests to the con- 
trary aside, they do not really believe that the Old Testament saints 
were saved by faith in Jesus Christ whom they anticipated. In all of 

31 WDWT, 181. 
n WDWT, 150. 
39 WDWT, 150-51. 
*°WDWT, 168-69. 


this Gerstner apparently is unaware that Ryrie's modification of 
Scofield's definition of a dispensation moves from a temporal orienta- 
tion toward a stewardship orientation. Reacting to the classic view of 
a dispensation as a time period in which a test occurs, Gerstner objects 
that this implies the possibility of successfully passing the test and 
achieving salvation by a means other than the finished work of 
Christ. No doubt this objection has some force against the classic 
Scofieldian position, but many no longer hold that position. It would 
also appear that the objection is just as forceful against classic cove- 
nant theology's covenant of works, in which it was possible for Adam's 
representative obedience to be imputed to Adam's posterity if Adam 
successfully passed a period of probation. 

Chapter nine addresses dispensationalism's view of the kingdom 
offer to Israel, arguing in essence that if it had been accepted, Jesus 
would not have had to die on the cross. In this chapter a number of 
misconceptions surface. The first is that all dispensationalists hold to 
such a kingdom offer. Gerstner is evidently unaware that some dis- 
pensationalists do not support such a kingdom offer. Another miscon- 
ception concerns the supposed distinction between the Matthean 
expression "kingdom of heaven" and the kingdom of God. Gerstner 
asserts that all dispensationalists make such a distinction, but this is 
not the case. He is also incorrect when he asserts that all other exegetes 
view the terms as synonymous; there are non-dispensational exegetes 
who maintain a distinction between the two expressions. Another 
misconception concerns the parenthetical nature of the church age or 
dispensation of grace as a time period totally unforeseen by the Old 
Testament. Not all dispensationalists have held this and many today do 
not hold it. A final misconception is Gerstner's characterization of 
Hal Lindsey and Billy Graham as credible spokesmen for mainline dis- 
pensationalism. Though both of these persons are prominent popular- 
izers of eschatology, it is doubtful that their eschatological views 

41 Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody, 1965) 29-33. 

42 WDWT, 155. 

43 WDWT, 172. But see Clarence Mason, Prophetic Problems with Alternate Solu- 
tions (Chicago: Moody, 1973) 102-3; E. Sauer, Triumph, 23 n. 1; and S. D. Toussaint, 
"The Kingdom and Matthew's Gospel," in Essays in Honor of Pentecost, 23. D. A. Car- 
son in "Matthew," Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. F. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1984) 8.100, cites nondispensationalist M. Pamment as one who sees a dis- 
tinction in her study "The Kingdom of Heaven in the First Gospel," NTS 27 (1980-81) 
211-32. Gerstner later (174) admits some dispensationlists do not distinguish between 
the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. 

^WDWT, 172. See e.g. Erich Sauer, From Eternity to Eternity (London: Paternos- 
ter, 1957) 166; and Robert Saucy, "Contemporary Dispensational Thought," TSFBull 7.4 
(1984) 10-11. 

45 WDWT, 174-75. 


converge and that their views should be considered as representative in 
a scholarly discussion of dispensationalism. 

It is noteworthy that in chapter nine Gerstner addresses the com- 
parison of the dispensational kingdom offer with the covenantal 
Adamic administration or covenant of works. He denies the force of 
this tu quoque argument by analogy, asserting that God could not have 
honored his offer of the kingdom to Israel but could have honored his 
promise to give Adam life. But why these situations are not analogous 
is unclear; evidently in both scenarios salvation hypothetically could 
have been achieved apart from the finished work of Jesus Christ. 

Chapter ten addresses the traditional dispensational distinction 
between Israel and the Church as two peoples of God. No doubt this is 
clearly taught by Darby, Scofield, and others. However, Gerstner pays 
little attention to the fact that this distinction has been nuanced if not 
denied at least since Robert Saucy in 1971. 47 He states dogmatically 
that dispensationalists see Israel and the Church as having separate 
eternal destinies, evidently unaware of W. Robert Cook's assertions to 
the contrary. Once again he brings up the mistaken notion that all 
dispensationalists see the Sermon on the Mount as law for Israel, not 
as an ethic for the Church. 

Also in this chapter Gerstner declares his own position on Israel 
and the Church. It is his view that they are identical. This position is 
just as far from Paul's teaching in Romans 1 1 and Ephesians 2 as is the 
separation argued in classic dispensationalism. Finally, Gerstner's view 
that in Ephesians 2:20 the prophets are Old Testament prophets would 
not be acceptable even to all covenantal scholars. I would not accept 
the Darby/Scofield view which over stresses the distinction between 
Israel and the Church, but Gerstner's antithetical approach which iden- 
tifies the two is hardly more adequate. 

Chapters eleven, twelve, and thirteen function as a unit which cri- 
tiques dispensational antinomianism. It should be remembered that this 
is the issue which evidently rankles Gerstner the most. My -own view 
of sanctification and the perseverance of the saints is similar to Gerst- 
ner's, and I am as concerned as he is about Hodges' and Ryrie's views of 
discipleship. However, I believe Gerstner incorrectly equates Ryrie's 

46 See Turner, "Continuity of Scripture," 285-86. 

41 WDWT, 208. 

4% WDWT, 185; cf. W. R. Cook, The Theology of John (Chicago: Moody, 1975) 
167-68, 226-27, n. 27. 

49 WDWT, 187-88. But see Martin's work cited in note 18. 

50 WDWT, 194-95, 207. 

51 WDWT, 206. Cf. e.g. W. Hendriksen, Exposition of Ephesians, New Testament 
Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967) 142. 

52 WDWT, 1. 

"David L. Turner, Review of Five Views of Sanctification, GTJ 10 (1989) 94-98. 

"dubious evangelicalism"? — A RESPONSE 273 

and Hodges' views. Ryrie seems to place more emphasis on persever- 
ance than Hodges does. At any rate, I do not object to Gerstner's con- 
cerns in this area, though I do object to the pervasive meanness of the 
material. There is an antinomian taint in some dispensational literature, 
and this has come to the fore recently in the Lordship salvation contro- 
versy. But here again Gerstner's attempt to condemn all dispensational- 
ism as a theological system fails, since this controversy is among 
dispensationalists who disagree with each other. John MacArthur and 
Zane Hodges both hold a dispensational premillennial eschatology, but 
their respective views of salvation and sanctification diverge widely. It 
is not unusual to find in dispensationally oriented publications authors 
who support both of these positions. If indeed "Scofield and his fol- 
lowers exercise a kind of papal infallibilism" with the result that Amer- 
ican dispensationalism "is still essentially Scofieldian" it is passing 
strange that such a controversy exists. It is also quite surprising to see 
a reformed theologian like Gerstner dismissing dispensationalism's 
prominence as "due to an accident of history." 57 It would seem to be 
more in keeping with reformed theology to speak of dispensationalism's 
success as a matter of divine providence rather than as an accident of 

Another of Gerstner's major charges is rendered dubious by this 
discussion of antinomianism. It is the charge that dispensationalism is 
essentially an Arminian system. If that were the case, there would be 
little controversy over lordship salvation. The so called "carnal Chris- 
tians" of the non-lordship position would be viewed as backsliders 
who have lost their salvation. Arminianism and antinomianism seem to 
be at opposite ends of the theological spectrum. 


Having completed the running commentary of interaction with 
Gerstner's arguments, I now present five major reasons for my view 
that his work is fundamentally flawed. 

First, Gerstner's approach may be faulted on logical grounds. His 
book is filled with hasty generalizations which comprehensively sweep 
aside all dispensationalists. But these generalizations are built on cri- 
tiques of individuals who do not represent contemporary dispensational- 
ism. At times these individuals are nonrepresentative because their views 
are outdated. Historical development has occurred. At other times Gerst- 
ner cites unpublished sources or rather obscure individuals whose views 

54 WDWT, 209. 

55 See e.g., H. A. Kent's lengthy and sympathetic review, "The Gospel According to 
Jesus: A Review Article," GTJ 10 (1989) 67-77. 
56 WDWT, 252-53. 
51 WDWT, 252. 


may tend to be idiosyncratic. The result is inadequate induction which 
does not support the global deductions about all dispensationalists. 

Second, Gerstner seems to lack a truly historical perpective. He 
does not allow for historical development in dispensationalism. Nor 
does he seem to acknowledge that reformed theology has its own 
developmental history. Apparently he views reformed systematic the- 
ology as tantamount to the Bible in authority, not as a noble and 
largely successful but nevertheless human effort to articulate biblical 
truth. He equates Calvinism with biblical Christianity. But which Cal- 
vinism? Calvin's? Beza's? Owen's? Edwards's? Hodge's? Warfield's? 
Murray's? Gerstner's?! His theology is certainly reformata but his 
approach to history neglects the crucial et semper reformanda aspect. 
Here it is particularly unfortunate that he does not interact substantially 
with Blaising's BSac articles on development in orthodox theology. 

A third area of major disagreement is Gerstner's insistence that dis- 
pensationalism is not merely an eschatology like premillennialism but a 
theological system which has an eschatology. This view of dispensation- 
alism as a theological monolith will not stand the scrutiny of comprehen- 
sive examination. From the outset there has been disagreement among 
dispensationalists. Those who hold dispensational eschatology will be 
found in many confessional soteriological and ecclesiastical circles, 
from reformed, as Gerstner grudgingly admits, to charismatic. One is 
reminded that G. N. H. Peters, and J. A. Seiss, whose writings were influ- 
ential in early dispensationalism, were Lutherans. The early ultradispen- 
sationalist E. W. Bullinger was an Anglican. It is noteworthy that two of 
the most prominent dispensational educational institutions, Moody Bible 
Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary, are interdenominational. In a 
recent summer doctrine class I taught at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary 
the students present represented such varied backgrounds as Assemblies 
of God, Baptist, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of Christ, 
Plymouth Brethren, and Wesleyan. There were many spirited discussions 
as we surveyed pneumatology, soteriology, and ecclesiology, but there 
was general agreement when we came to eschatology. 

Fourth, it appears that in crucial areas Gerstner is much more 
familiar with classic dispensational sources than with contemporary 
dispensational sources. Substantive interaction occurs mainly with 
Darby, Scofield, Chafer, and Ryrie. This tendency counters Gerstner's 
statements that he has examined current dispensational sources and 
the glowing remarks of Sproul's foreword about Gerstner's careful 

58 C. Blaising, "Doctrinal Development in Orthodoxy" and "Development of Dis- 
pensationalism by Contemporary Dispensationalists," BSac 145 (1988) 133-40, 254-80. 

59 See the 1991 dispensational study group paper by Douglas Oss, "The Hermeneu- 
tics of Dispensationalism within the Pentecostal Tradition," available from Prof. Darrell 
Bock at Dallas Theological Seminary. 

60 WDWT, 2-3, 72, 169, 261 etc. 

"dubious evangelicalism"? A RESPONSE 275 

research and precise targeting of the issues. To some extent this is 
the fault of contemporary dispensationalists, who have not widely pub- 
lished their views. The lack of contemporary dispensational literature 
will be alleviated with the publication of Dispensationalism, Israel, 
and the Church: The Search for Definition. 

But there are several sources already available which Gerstner does 
not discuss at any length if he mentions them at all. Several such studies 
have already been mentioned. Here Radmacher's article on dispensa- 
tional eschatology is relevant. 6 Ken Barker's and Carl Hoch's JETS arti- 
cles on false discontinuities between the testaments and Jew-Gentile 
relationships come to mind, as well as the articles by Saucy in TSFBull 
and CTR. Homer Kent's study of the new covenant and the church 
affirms one new covenant in distinction from the position of many early 
dispensationalists. Craig Blaising's articles in BSac and John Martin's 
study of dispensational approaches to the Sermon on the Mount have 
already been mentioned. My own studies of dispensational versus cove- 
nantal hermeneutics and Matthew 24 address several of the issues which 
trouble Gerstner. The writings of Erich Sauer present a strand of dis- 
pensationalism emphasizing continuity in biblical theology, but Gerst- 
ner is apparently unfamiliar with these writings. The recent Festschrift 
in honor of S. Lewis Johnson addresses many of these issues from both 
dispensational and covenantal perspectives, 69 but it goes unmentioned 
in Gerstner's book. Even the "ultradispensational" movement which 
Gerstner wrongly styles as consistent dispensationalism has come a long 
way since J. C. O'Hair and Cornelius Stam. Gerstner does not discuss 
the more recent A Dispensational Theology by Charles F. Baker 70 and 

6l WDWT, ix. 

62 C. Blaising and D. Bock, eds. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992). 

63 Earl D. Radmacher, "The Current Status of Dispensationalism and its Eschatol- 
ogy," in Perspectives on Evangelical Theology, ed. K. Kantzer and S. Gundry (Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1979) 163-76. 

64 Kenneth L. Barker, "False Discontinuities Between the Testaments," JETS 25 
(1982) 3-16; Carl B. Hoch Jr., "The Significance of the sw/z-Compounds for Jew-Gentile 
Relationships in the body of Christ," JETS 25 (1982) 175-83. 

65 Robert Saucy, "Contemporary Dispensational Thought" and "Dispensationalism 
and the Salvation of the Kingdom," TSFBull 7.4 (1984) 10-11 and 7.5 (1984) 6-7; and 
"The Crucial Issue between Dispensational and Non-Dispensational Theological Sys- 
tems," CTR 1 (1986) 149-65. 

66 Homer A. Kent, "The New Covenant and the Church," GTJ 6 (1985) 289-98. 

67 David Turner, "The Structure and Sequence of Matthew 24:1-41: Interaction 
with Evangelical Treatments," GTJ 10 (1989) 3-27. 

68 Erich Sauer, From Eternity to Eternity etc. 
John Feinberg, ed. Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relation- 
ship between the Old and New Testaments (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1988). 

70 Charles F. Baker, A Dispensational Theology (Grand Rapids: Grace Bible Col- 
lege, 1971). 


he evidently is not aware that the old Milwaukee Bible College has 
developed into Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Gerstner is evidently unaware of the work of the Dispensational 
Study Group of the Evangelical Theological Society. This group has 
met in conjunction with the annual ETS meeting since 1985 and has 
enjoyed cordial relations with several reformed scholars who were 
invited participants. Papers from these meetings have been widely cir- 

7 1 

culated and some have been published. Others are available from 
professor Darrell Bock at Dallas Theological Seminary. 

The fifth and final major problem with Gerstner's study is the spirit 
in which it is written. At times the language and tone of the book is sar- 
castic, arrogant, and demeaning. Earnest theological debate is fine, but 
not rhetoric which slurs fellow imagers of God in God's new creation. 
It is especially disturbing that respected theologians J. I. Packer and 
R. C. Sproul have endorsed this diatribe. Sadly, this book is a throw- 
back to earlier days where there was frequently more heat than light pro- 
duced in this type of discussion. And certainly dispensationalists have 
been just as guilty as covenantalists of incendiary tactics. But there 


seems to be a different spirit now, one of irenic yet earnest interaction. 


According to Gerstner, all dispensationalists are characterized by 
the following positions: They do not believe in any of the five points of 
Calvinism. They do not believe in the continuing relevance of the sab- 
bath. They do not believe that anything beyond Revelation 4 has yet 
been fulfilled. They do not believe in praying the Lord's prayer. They 
do not believe that the Old Testament saints were regenerate. They do 
not believe that the kingdom offered to Israel by Jesus was spiritual. 
They do not equate the kingdom of heaven with the kingdom of God. 
And they do not believe that becoming a Christian necessarily results 
in a change of lifestyle. 73 

71 Ronald Clutter, "The Dispensational Study Group: an Introduction," GTJ 10 
(1989) 123-24. Clutter's introduction precedes a dialogue between convenantalist Vern 
Poythress and dispensationalist Paul Karleen, pp. 125-64. 

72 Here one thinks of Vern Poythress's Understanding Dispensationalists (Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1987). Nevertheless other current books are less irenic and essen- 
tially repeat old charges: G. Bahnsen and K. Gentry, House Divided: The Break-up of 
Dispensational Theology, Tyler, TX: ICE, 1989); and C. Crenshaw and G. Gunn, Dis- 
pensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow (Memphis: Footstool, 1989 rev. ed.). 
These covenantalist works are joined by the dispensational work of R. Showers, There 
Really is a Difference! A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology (Bell- 
mawr, NJ: Friends of Israel, 1990). 

73 WDWT, 2, 17, 25, 60, 90, 105, 132, 147, 171-72, 233. 

"dubious evangelicalism"? — A RESPONSE 277 

If this is the case, I have a problem. I have been taught in two dis- 
pensational institutions. And I have taught in three such institutions. 
Yet I believe in all of the above positions which according to Gerstner 
I must not believe. So I have a problem. Maybe I am not a dispensa- 
tionalist after all! But maybe Gerstner is the one who has the problem. 
Maybe dispensationalism is not a rigid monolith of confessional 
Arminian solidarity. Maybe it is only a recent eschatological innova- 
tion which stands upon the inviolability of God's covenant promises to 
Israel and eagerly expects the imminent return of Christ to consum- 
mate those promises. Maybe. ... 

74 Three current major studies should be consulted by anyone who wishes to under- 
stand the current status of dispensationalism. Reference has already been made to Blais- 
ing and Bock, eds., Dispensationalism, Israel, and the Church. In this work ten 
dispensationalists present current perspectives from biblical theology and there are three 
responses from prominent non-dispensationalists. See also D. K. Campbell and J. L. 
Townsend, eds. A Case for Premillennialism: A New Consensus (Chicago: Moody, 1992). 
This work addresses premillennialism in general from a biblical theology perspective but 
nearly all of the fourteen contributors would want to be identified as dispensationalists. 
Expected in 1993 is R. L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism: The 
Interface Between Dispensational and Non-Dispensational Theology (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan). Saucy has been a major voice in current dispensationalism. Among his prop- 
ositions are two prominent departures from classic dispensationalism. He argues that the 
fulfillment of OT prophecy has already begun in the current age of the church and that the 
church is in continuity with the OT messianic program rather than an unrelated mystery 
parenthesis. These points are made in the Fall/Winter 1992 Zondervan Academic and 
Professional book catalog. 

Grace Theological Journal 12.2 (1991) 279-326 


God With Us: A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, by Christoph 
Barth. Edited by G. W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub- 
lishing Co., 1991. Pp. 403. Cloth. 

Christoph Barth, the second son of Karl Barth, devoted a significant part 
of his life to the theological education of Indonesians. For two decades this 
volume has been widely used as a textbook in Indonesia, in expanded form. 
Barth's death forestalled his translating his writings into English. Through the 
efforts of Geoffrey Bromiley and Barth's widow this abridged English version 
is now available to the West, posthumously. 

The author's approach to the subject reflects his commitment to "listening 
to the text" — a commitment which does not always guide the systematic theol- 
ogy technique. Obviously oriented more toward biblical theology, Barth has 
"patiently allowed the Old Testament to surface many of its own concerns, is- 
sues and emphases." This results in the identification of nine theological is- 
sues, which constitute the book's nine chapters: God created heaven and earth; 
God chose the fathers of Israel; God brought Israel out of Egypt; God led His 
people through the wilderness; God revealed Himself at Sinai; God granted Is- 
rael the land of Canaan; God raised up kings in Israel; God chose Jerusalem; 
God sent His prophets. He arrived at these as the significant issues of the Old 
Testament on the basis of two criteria: [1] they have "significant resonance in 
the OT literature," [p. 6], [2] they "appear as items in the confessional summa- 
ries of history in the OT" [pp. 5, 7]. The use of such criteria in "doing theol- 
ogy" demonstrates Barth's predisposition to the text. 

Provocative in certain respects because of Barth's selections and methods, 
God with Us engages the reader in the contemplation of elements of divine ac- 
tivity that are frequently passed over as commonplace. The chapter titles and the 
respective discussions combine to remind the reader constantly that the Old 
Testament is much more than a series of interesting stories; indeed, it is a theo- 
logical presentation of divine, revelatory activity. Furthermore, in a rather 
straightforward manner, the writer makes the point that God's activity, as en- 
countered in the Old Testament, was concentrated upon Israel and her ancestors. 
This latter point, however, does not lead to a bifurcation between the "testa- 
ments;" the author's discussions demonstrate his devotion the unity of scripture. 

An impressive characteristic of the book is the writer's ability to correlate 
and integrate biblical data — legitimately. This is true both with respect to the 
assimilation of the scriptural witness to each of the subjects and with the dem- 
onstration of the interrelationships of those predominant themes. In a convinc- 
ing manner, Barth develops the validity of his nine theological discussions as 
foundational to a perceptive comprehension of the Old Testament's theology. 
For this reason, the book is appropriately subtitled, "A Theological Introduc- 
tion to the Old Testament." 


Certain omissions from Barth's schema are curious. Although he occa- 
sionally alludes to God's dealings with the nations, the subject is not discussed 
in a direct way. Most likely this disregard is to be explained by Barth's point 
that God's activity was primarily directed toward Israel. Nevertheless, the sub- 
ject does have "significant resonance" in the Old Testament, and is one of the 
critical issues which argues for continuity between the "old" and "new" testa- 
ments. The absence of any substantive discussion of Genesis 3 and the impact 
of sin and death upon mankind creates another lacuna in Barth's work. More- 
over, the relationship between God and Israel, as presented in the Old Testa- 
ment, was the outworking of the divine intention to address the Genesis 3 

Chapters 7 and 9 address God's provision of kings and prophets, respec- 
tively; this is not to be faulted. However, Deuteronomy 16-18 includes judges 
and priests among the covenant functionaries. Barth's fullest discussion of 
priests ["Installing priests for the ministry of reconciliation," pp. 152-58] is 
included in Chapter 5: "God Revealed Himself at Sinai." Although priests are 
not as prominent in the narrative of the Former Prophets as are kings or proph- 
ets, they are, nevertheless, crucial to the theological interpretation there pre- 
sented. The importance of the priest's role in the covenant community is also 
reflected in their inclusion in prophetic indictments of the covenant leaders [cf. 
Jer. 2:8, 26]. That God raised up "delivering judges" [cf. Judges 4:4; 10:1] for 
Israel over a period of about 300 years lends some stature to their role in the 
nation's history also. Barth's work would be strengthened by appropriate dis- 
cussions of these roles along with kings and prophets. 

These deficiencies notwithstanding, the volume offers its readers a chal- 
lenging, insightful and therefore refreshing alternative. Not intended to replace 
the works of Eichrodt, von Rad and others, this volume will stand along side of 
them and make a contribution. 

John I. Lawlor 
Baptist Bible Seminary 

Let Justice Roll Down: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Christian Life, by 
Bruce C. Birch. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991. Pp. 357. Paper. 

The book's title advertises accurately the author's agenda. He argues inci- 
sively that since the Old Testament is scripture of the church, Christian ethics 
must be rooted in its theology. He reflects an appropriate concern that the mod- 
ern church reclaims this often misunderstood, often neglected collection of sa- 
cred writings as its own — not just Israel's. Convinced that the Old Testament 
speaks to twentieth-century concerns of the church, Birch deftly demonstrates 
that the will, character and activity of God offer the foundation of Christian 
ethics in the Old Testament, not the character and activity of man. 

After an introductory section in which he discusses his approach (Part 1: 
"Methood and Approach"), the author directs the reader's attention to "creator 
and Creation." Obviously these are the first matters presented in the Old Testa- 
ment; however, the point that Birch is concerned to make is that the Old Testa- 


ment portrayal of Creator and creation must be the starting point in formulating 

Through a series of chapters which trace the history and nature of God's 
dealings with Abraham and his descendants from the Abrahamic covenant to 
the return from Babylonian exile, the author consistently calls attention to the 
will, character and activity of God. In this way the reader is regularly reminded 
of the theocentric (in contrast to anthropocentric) nature of the Old Testament. 

A final discussion of "Wisdom and Morality" focuses attention on the 
Wisdom tradition of ancient Israel and its unique contribution to Old Testa- 
ment scripture. Wisdom's influence in the formulation of one's ethics is based 
on wisdom's penchant for creation theology and the attribution of creation to 
Israel's God. 

Two factors tend to detract from the overall impact of the book. First, 
Birch appears to operate with a predisposition toward the Documentary Hy- 
pothesis. It is obvious, however, that he recognizes its current diminished role 
in Old Testament studies, and reflects a sensitivity to the influence of canonical 
studies. Consequently, it is not the "driving force" behind his analysis. Second, 
the author's view of Biblical authority is understood not as "... a property in- 
herent in the Bible itself . . . ;" rather, authority "... is the recognition of the 
Christian community over centuries of experience that the Scripture is a source 
of empowerment for its life in the world." (34) 

These two fundamental flaws notwithstanding (for a generation to which the 
past tends to be less important than "getting on with the future," to which history 
is less attractive than eschatology), Birch's examination of the Old Testament 
offers a needed reminder: What God has done for His people in the past should 
serve as the basis on which the present is lived and the eyeglasses through which 
the future is anticipated. Speaking of the Exodus event, he observes that it "did 
not stay tied to its historical moorings in the past. It became the lens through 
which generation after generation read its own experience." (130) 

John I. Lawlor 
Baptist Bible Seminary 

Jeremiah 26-52: To Build, To Plant, by Walter Brueggemann. International 
Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. xi + 298. Paper. 

This volume, like the first {Jeremiah 1-15: To Pluck Up, To Tear Down. 
Eerdmans, 1988), takes its cue from Jeremiah 1:10. Indeed, Brueggemann re- 
peatedly returns to its theme (see, e.g., pp. 3, 39, 40-43, 67, 178, 206-8). 
Brueggemann likewise continues his basic socio-literary hermeneutical ap- 
proach. In so doing, his evaluation of the situation behind the existence of a 
community that is strongly divided over covenantal and noncovenantal ap- 
proaches to life. The former is represented by the Jeremiah tradition, the latter 
by the Jerusalem establishment that holds to a royal-priestly ideology. 

The social situation can be discerned in three pivotal themes that have 
been presented in the chapters covered in vol. 1 and that reappear in the mate- 
rial represented by this volume: (1) Israel's covenant with Yahweh, which is 


preserved in the memories and mandates of the Sinai tradition, together with 
its blessings and cursings (see, e.g., chaps. 26; 27-28; 34:8-22; 44:1-14), (2) 
the pathos of Yahweh, a factor that ensures the Lord's continuing relation with 
His disobedient people (see, e.g., chaps. 30-33; pp. 41-43, 58-78, 91-103), 
and (3) the royal-temple ideology of the king and temple priests, which taught 
that God's promise of His continuing residence in Jerusalem guaranteed the ex- 
istence of the monarchy, the temple worship, and the city itself (see, e.g., 
chaps. 36-45; pp. 121-28, 154-57). Underlying the whole is the threat of the 
imminent demise of Jerusalem due to the nation's failure to follow the stan- 
dards of covenant-Torah. Despite the claims of the establishment, Jerusalem 
must and will fall. God's judgment, however, will eventuate in His free gift of 
a new community (33:1-11), to whose grateful followers will be given a gra- 
cious new covenant (31:31-34). 

Brueggemann's commitment to literary concerns is seen in his competent 
handling of rhetorical devices throughout the book. Among his many observa- 
tions of a literary nature (in addition to the usual attention given to metaphor, 
simile, and repetition, etc.) may be noted such features as the "rich variety of 
literary forms" in chap. 30 (p. 58), the careful use of complicated rhetorical de- 
vices in 34:12-16 (p. 110) and restrained understatement in 39:1-10 (p. 157), 
the catechetical-like creation of a "pentalogue" warning against "accommoda- 
tion to the values of the dominant society" (pp. 1 12-13), near apocalyptic rhet- 
oric in chaps. 50-51 (pp. 257, 275), and the utilization of the "if-then" style 
(pp. 6, 105, 177-81). 

Brueggemann also pays attention to structural matters. Thus, he suggests 
the use of bracketing via chaps. 36 and 45 (pp. 121, 204), by means of the 
careful placement of 1:10 and 46:1 (p. 216), and through the balancing of the 
Baruch and Seriah narratives (pp. 281-82). He notes the employment of poetic 
anticipatory formulae in 51:47-58 (p. 278) and occasional instances of chias- 
mus (e.g., 44:2-6; 51:41-44). In addition, Brueggemann isolates several key 
sub-themes that are interlaced throughout these chapters such as God's sover- 
eignty (pp. 5, 86, 139, 145-46, 247, 258, 269, 293), especially in His utiliza- 
tion of Babylon as an instrument of divine judgment (see especially chaps. 46- 
51 and the remarks on pp. 256-57), and the necessity of the exile (see, e.g., 
pp. 29, 30, 39, 45, 59, 87-88, 92, 179, 183-84, 186, 290, 293). He calls atten- 
tion to the motifs of the Good Shepherd, as seen in God's concern for the ex- 
iles (chaps. 40-41) and Jeremiah's pastoral care (chap. 29), and the important 
wedding motif in 33:10-11 (pp. 96-97). Brueggemann also notes a concern 
for scrolls in these chapters (pp. 129, 137-38, 280-83). 

Through all of this Brueggemann largely subordinates historical-critical 
concerns, opting rather for a "close" reading of the text that enables the canon- 
ical Jeremiah to "speak" to its interpreters. Thus, with regard to the material in 
chaps. 30-33 he remarks, "Historical criticism, in my judgment, has worked 
too hard at relating such promises to specific historical situations, seeking to 
explain the text in terms of context." There can be little doubt that judged upon 
its own merits the book has accomplished its purposes well. Brueggemann has 
carried through his basic hermeneutical approach with remarkable consistency 
and with fine rhetorical skill. Certainly all of his readers will be challenged by 
his reminder that they need to submit themselves and their life situation to the 


scriptural text so as to receive "the miracle of forgiveness . . . and to take from 
it a new, regenerated life" (p. 73). 

Nevertheless, one may feel some hesitancy in a wholesale adoption of his 
conclusions. Thus, Brueggemann's basic threefold hermeneutical position may 
better be reduced to two, since the Lord's "pathos" is already resident in the 
mandates of covenant-Torah (see, e.g., Exod. 19-20; Lev. 26; Deut. 27-30). 
One may also take issue with his treatment of chap. 25 as something unusual 
and unexpected. Indeed, much as Brueggemann himself notes with regard to 
chap. 45 (see p. 210), chaps 25, 36, and 45 appear to serve as hinge chapters, 
partaking of the contexts that surround them while bookending large sections 
of material ([25], 26-35, [36], 37-44, [45]). A hint as to their deliberate place- 
ment may well lie in the fact that all three have the same dating. As well, it 
would seem that because Brueggemann is dealing with the canonical text, he 
could have shown more effectively the skillfully deployed verbal and thematic 
hooks that link the various units and subunits of Jeremiah together. One may 
also differ with his handling of the arrangement of chaps. 46-5 1 , which appear 
to follow the customary prophetic procedure (cf. Ezek. 25-32; Amos 1:3-2:3; 
Zeph. 2:4-15) of being arranged in geographic orientation, Jeremiah 46:1- 
49:27 dealing with the nations adjacent to Israel and 49:28-51:58 relating to 
Babylon and its surrounding nations. 

Many readers will doubtless feel uncomfortable with several of Bruegge- 
mann's theological and historical conclusions. For example, Brueggemann sug- 
gests late "redactional shaping" (p. 163) in several places. Thus, chaps. 24 and 
29 "likely reflect a later traditioning process in a subsequent generation of ex- 
iles" (p. 30). He also proposes that the "theological import" of the Oracles 
against the Nations (46-51) is "congenial" to "Deuteronomic" theological out- 
look (p. 258), that 51:59-64 is "a redactional piece that is concerned with the 
canonical shaping of the book of Jeremiah" (p. 281), and that chap. 52 has un- 
dergone "a complex editorial process" (p. 286). Brueggemann's suggested his- 
torical setting for several contexts may be problematical such as the exilic 
setting of 33:17-18, which promises Davidic continuity on the throne, a "guar- 
antee" that Brueggemann finds "strikingly peculiar in the tradition of Jere- 
miah" (p. 99), as well as his minimizing of the historicality of certain 
narratives (see, e.g., pp. 124, 200, 204-5). 

Some of his interpretative conclusions may likewise be found offensive, 
particularly those concerning Baruch. Thus he suggests that Baruch, "perhaps 
the leader of the symbol of the pro-Babylonian community of Jewish exiles," 
was "the generator of the ideology placed in the mouth of the prophet" (p. 126) 
in 43:1-3 and that "the name 'Baruch' may also have come in this material to 
be a cipher for all that body of opinion and all those persons who championed 
a pro-Babylonian view of the crisis in Jerusalem. Thus Baruch may be a tag- 
word for all those 'rightminded' people who with Jeremiah equated the purpose 
of Yahweh with the oppression of Babylon. This is not to deny that Baruch is 
a person, but to suggest that he is a representative person" (p. 205). Equally 
troublesome may be the thought that the Oracles against the Nations "emerged 
in the midst of liturgic celebrations of the sovereignty of Yahweh, and served 
to voice the claim that God's sovereign rule extended not simply over Israel 
but over all peoples" (p. 209), or that the argument that rival claims concerning 


Israel's God and the queen of heaven are equally good is "not wrong" but "ter- 
ribly innocent" in that it "does not understand the linkage, explicit at least 
since Karl Marx, that every theological claim carries with it a socioeconomic 
claim" (p. 203), or that the fleeing exiles flight to Egypt (43:1-7) was "not 
only a defeat for Jeremiah," but "an awesome defeat for the God whose work 
has begun in an escape from Egypt" (p. 188). Of questionable application, as- 
suredly, is Brueggemann's assertion concerning 50:17-20 that Israel's political 
life, lived under the threat and reality of Assyria and Babylon, is as a sheep to 
a lion, "much like the relation of Lithuania to the Soviet Union or the relation 
of Nicaragua to the United States" (pp. 263-64). 

In sum, Brueggemann has offered a commentary that demonstrates a thor- 
ough knowledge of scholarly opinion on the book of Jeremiah, carries out 
faithfully and with great consistency the author's own hermeneutical stance, 
and reflects well the goals of the series in general. While most of the conclu- 
sions reached will find a ready appreciation in the wider Christian church, 
some of them will need to be weighed carefully by the evangelical community. 

Richard D. Patterson 
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary 

Rethinking Genesis: The Sources and Authorship of the First Book of the Pen- 
tateuch, by Duane Garrett. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991. Pp. 273. 

The recent work by Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary's professor of 
Hebrew and Old Testament studies provides an erudite, but readable, proposal 
concerning the use of sources in the composition of Genesis. This is a question 
which, because of the Documentary Hypothesis of Graf-Wellhausen, et. al., 
has been largely avoided by evangelicals. 

In Part 1 ["The Higher Criticism of Genesis"] Garrett sets the stage for his 
later proposals through a brief, but poignant, treatment of the Documentary 
Hypothesis, a balanced discussion of Form Criticism and Tradition Criticism 
and a thought-provoking examination of Mosaic authorship and historical reli- 
ability. Concerning the Documentary Hypothesis, Garrett concludes that "as a 
starting point for continued research" it "is dead." Garrett points out the inad- 
equacies of Form Criticism when applied appropriately, and offers some guide- 
lines for its use. Undoubtedly some readers will have difficulty with his 
discussion of Mosaic authorship and historical reliability, which begins with 
the point that "the author of the Book of Genesis remains anonymous," al- 
though he embraces the view that Moses was "primarily responsible for the 
writing of the Pentateuch." Nevertheless, Garrett makes the point that affirma- 
tion of Mosaic authorship does not answer the questions concerning sources. 
Here he asserts that "[o]nly a limited amount of the text should be assumed to 
be visionary in origin," and makes the important point that "[n]o analogy ex- 
ists in the Bible ... for historical narrative having its source in direct revela- 
tion." Although he sees Moses as the principal author of Genesis, he argues 
that a post-Mosaic redaction was necessary in order to "make it intelligible to 
a later generation of readers." 


In Part 2 ["The Structure and Sources of Genesis"] Garrett distinguishes 
among the various types of sources employed in the composition of Genesis. 
The discussion begins with a proposal of four-stage development of the text: 
[1] initial recollection and transmission, [2] reduction of these stories to writ- 
ing and the pre-Mosaic redaction of the unstructured oral sources into complex 
literary units, [3] Mosaic redaction, [4] post-Mosaic redaction. The first stage, 
according to Garrett, was patriarchal; this involved recounting the stories of 
their lives to their children, but also passing down any written materials in their 
possession. This stage involved oral transmission, although Garrett is reluctant 
to allow for more than 100 years. The second stage involved the redaction of 
the various stories into complex narrative form and preservation in written 
form. The Mosaic redaction gave Genesis its present form and most of its 
present content. Garrett refers to this stage as "Urgenesis." The post-Mosaic re- 
daction gave Genesis its present shape. Such a reconstruction is certainly rea- 
sonable, but at the same time hypothetical — a point which Garrett recognizes. 

The decipherment of toledoth sources and narrative sources is important 
for the first stage of transmission; the former preserves family genealogy, the 
later preserves the experiences of the patriarchs and their immediate families. 
Making up the latter category, Garrett proposes, are "Ancestor Epics," "Nego- 
tiation Tales," "Gospel," and "Migration Epics." The author's discussion of 
each is arresting and prompts further thought, although at times his description 
of the conventions of a genre lack the support of comparative ancient Near 
Eastern materials. 

Because Garrett's serious interaction with the narratives of Genesis is 
quite evident in Part 2, the reader is led to an enhanced perception of the 
significance found in the the content, structure and intent of these narratives. 
Consequently, even if the author's reconstruction is unacceptable — in part or in 
full — it is still profitable to read carefully. 

Part 3 ["The Authorship and Composition of Genesis"] offers engaging 
propositions concerning the Mosaic redaction of Genesis 1 and the possible as- 
sociation between the Israelite priesthood and the tradents of the Genesis 
sources. Concerning the former, Garrett suggests that the heptadic structure 
[particularly the 6 + 1] of Genesis 1 identifies it as a genre unique to Biblical 
literature. Parallels are to be found only in Revelation 6:1-8:1 [seals], 8:2- 
11:19 [trumpets] and 16:1-21 [bowls]; like these Revelation parallels, Genesis 
1:1-2:3 is visionary. Not only does the visionary nature and the [6+1] heptadic 
structure of these passages argue for intended correlation; Genesis presents the 
initiation of the world and its history while Revelation offers the heavenly 
view of the culmination of human history. 

Garrett proposes that the Levites functioned as scribes, teachers and 
"quasi-priests" prior to the exodus, and that they were active in preserving the 
patriarchal traditions and teaching them to the Israelite community. By the 
time of the exodus they were already involved in other priestly functions as 
well, on the basis of tradition. Their role in the golden calf incident was the 
impetus for their being given responsibility for the care and transportation of 
the tent of meeting. 

Although it is not the main thesis of the book, Garrett sees "alienation" as 
the theme of Genesis [Chapter 12: "Memories of a Wandering People"]. 


Unquestionably, "alienation" is encountered with regularity in the Genesis nar- 
rative; but that it is the theme of the book is not a settled issue. In this review- 
er's judgment it might better be understood as having the status of "subtheme," 
or perhaps "motif." 

Two appendices [A: "The Question of Inspiration," and B: "A Critique of 
Three Recent Hypotheses of Pentateuchal Origins"] accompany the main 
three-part discussion. Appendix A, although brief, addresses a point that natu- 
rally arises from such an investigation. Without "sacrificing" anything by way 
of this important doctrine, Garrett, forces the reader to consider the likelihood 
that compilers along with the "great writers" were carried along by the Holy 
Spirit in the great enterprise of revelation/preservation. 

The implications of this book reach beyond the study of Genesis, to other 
historical narrative oriented books of the Old Testament [Former Prophets and 
Chronicles]. Much of Garrett's writing is hypothetical; yet it is a book which 
deserves both reading and response. As this takes place refining will certainly 
follow. The question of the use of sources by what Garrett refers to as the 
"great writers" is one which needs serious, studied conservative evangelical at- 
tention. Garrett has produced a volume that boldly addresses a valid question; 
a volume which motivates the reader to contemplate both the question and 
Garrett's proposed answer. All serious students and teachers of Genesis should 
carefully read this book. 

John I. Lawlor 
Baptist Bible Seminary 

The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, by Victor P. Hamilton. The New Interna- 
tional Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerd- 
mans Publishing Co., 1990. Pp. 522. Cloth. 

Victor Hamilton has contributed a significant work to the study of Gene- 
sis. Amidst the plethora of commentaries on the first book of the Bible, Hamil- 
ton's analysis and exposition provide a presentation that is solidly conservative 
and honest with language, history, and critical studies. 

In the traditional format of NICOT, Hamilton's introduction deals first 
with the title of the book. In this discussion he aptly points out the "origins" 
theology of Genesis, yet he appropriately observes that transcendent to all ori- 
gins is God: "He is one without re D sit (beginning) or c ah D nt (end)" (p. 2). 

He then discusses at some length the book's structure based on the c elleh 
tdl e dot ("these are the generations of") formula. He argues that this phrase 
serves throughout the book as a superscription for what follows, including 2:4a 
as a superscription for 2:4b-5:26. 

Next, the composition and authorship of the book comes under scrutiny. He 
traces the history of interpretation from the classical form of the Wellhausian 
Documentary Hypothesis to the more recent contributions and revisions by Van 
Seters, Rendtorff, Kikawada, Rendsburg, Tengstrom and others. He concludes 
his presentation with surveys of the approaches of Kitchen and Harrison. His 
concise critiques and reviews of the various approaches give helpful perspective 
to the whole discussion and show thorough awareness of the issues. 


Hamilton concludes that the search for the authorship and mode of com- 
position of Genesis is an "exercise in futility" (p. 38). He suggests that a con- 
servative view of Genesis is not necessarily tied in with Mosaic authorship, 
since most conservative scholars would recognize post-Mosaic updates in the 
text. However, he points out that there is a strong trend to acknowledge an es- 
sential unity to the book. It was refreshing to read a commentary on Genesis 
that addressed the book as a canonical unity — a book that has theological and 
textual integrity as it stands. Throughout the commentary itself Hamilton po- 
lemicizes for the book's unity (e.g., pp. 119, 167, 170, 376). 

Hamilton then discusses the theology of the book. He appropriately em- 
phasizes the fundamental theme of the promises of God which cannot be 
aborted (p. 46). In spite of foibles and failures of the human recipients and pro- 
genitors of promise (including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), "the voice of grace 
and promise is not "muted" (p. 52). The theology of the book is "declaratory, 
promissory, and eschatological" (p. 47). Hamilton develops well the notion of 
the theological movement from God's dealing with the families of the earth 
(Gen. 1-11) to his focus on the chosen family (Gen. 12-50), and the redemp- 
tive role of the latter for the former. 

Next, Hamilton spends several pages dealing with some of the traditional 
problems in the book — the "days" of Genesis 1, the mythical interpretation 
of Genesis 1-11, the historicity of the patriarchal narratives, and the influence 
of pagan religion on the faith of the patriarchs. He maintains that the "days" of 
Genesis 1 are normal solar days. He argues, however, that 1:1-2:3 is highly 
literary in its design, as well as theological and polemical in its intent. He dem- 
onstrates that while Genesis 1-11 may be debated as to its factuality, it is not 
mythical in the classic sense of what the mythopoeic world view perceives (cf. 
pp. 162 for commentary development). He suggests that the historicity of the 
patriarchal narratives is a critical concern, and significantly impacts the bibli- 
cal message of redemption begun in Abraham and climaxed in Jesus Christ. Fi- 
nally, he argues that the religion of the patriarchs, while certainly influenced in 
its form by surrounding religions, is unique in its perception of God as one 
who elects, promises, is mobile and is intensely relational with His called ones. 

Hamilton then briefly discusses canonicity and text. He observes that the 
canonicity of Genesis has never been in serious dispute, and the Hebrew text is 
well intact. 

A helpful bibliography concludes the introduction. 

The balance of the commentary is an exposition of the text of Genesis 
1:17 (chapters 18-50 are to follow in another volume). He provides his own 
translation with appropriate notes (lexical, grammatical, text critical, etc.) ex- 
plaining the reasons for his renderings (note the fascinating suggestion of ana- 
coluthon in Gen 3:22, p. 208, n. 2). 

The text of Genesis 1-17 is explicated paragraph by paragraph with care- 
ful textual and interpretive observations and comments. The commentary is re- 
plete with insightful and balanced remarks. The discussion of Esau's minhd as 
a cereal offering (p. 223), and the top of the tower of Babel ironically described 
as needing God to "come down to see it" (p. 354), are two of many comments 
particularly well received. Hamilton demonstrates great familiarity with the 
available primary and secondary ancient Near East materials, and expends great 


effort in bringing these resources to bear on the text of Genesis in both compar- 
ative and contrastive ways. His numerous footnotes are wide in scope. 

At the end of each larger unit, he attempts to develop the reading of the ma- 
terial by New Testament authors. This unique feature is apparently an attempt 
to have a contribution from OT scholarship to the discussion of the use of the 
OT in the NT from a strongly inductive approach. The concept is commendable, 
but the remarks are usually quite cursory, and perhaps suffer accordingly. How 
significant they will be in the ongoing broader discussion of how these OT texts 
are used in the NT is uncertain. The remark that Paul was "history's all-time 
male chauvinist" (p. 182, n. 2) is rather inappropriate. He does demonstrate a de- 
lightful sense of humour throughout, which adds texture to the commentary. 

While there are always many interpretative matters to quibble about in a 
commentary such as this, one concern deserves comment. Hamilton's presenta- 
tion of authorship and composition is in many senses applauded. Yet, the dan- 
ger here is that Hamilton minimizes the impact of the message(s) for an 
original audience. When this happens, the understanding of textual structuring 
and inclusions/exclusions is also minimized, and even skewed. As is well un- 
derstood in rhetorical and literary criticism, no text stands outside of a histori- 
cal context of composition or authorial intent/audience reception. 

While Hamilton does refer to an original audience (e.g., pp. 262, 270, 
468), it seems that he has not integrated this discussion thoroughly enough. On 
several occasions, an understanding of an original Mosaic audience, or at least 
an OT theocratic audience (even post-exilic, per a final canonical form), may 
have shaped the commentary on these texts somewhat differently.. Perhaps his 
wondering at why certain details are included and omitted in the account of the 
construction of Noah's ark may be answered by reflecting on the concerns of a 
receptor community. The remark that "nowhere in ch. 6 does God evaluate 
Noah's character. That is done by the narrator. . . . The Lord's own statement 
will come in 7:1" is to misunderstand the theological and polemical intent of 
the entire book, right down to the original author's framing and structuring ac- 
counts and speeches for audience impact. The commentary often seems sus- 
pended above original historical settings for its theological and polemical 
impact (cf. p. 346 for an excellent theological note which is also seemingly 
suspended in this way). 

On the other hand, Hamilton is to be commended for seeking to explicate 
the book apart from a single generation composition and reading. All too often 
conservative scholars fail to recognize the continuing scribal activity in the 
biblical text, an activity that both preserved and revised the text for the sake of 
contemporary audiences. 

The indexes of authors, Hebrew words, and Scripture references at the end 
of the commentary are well done in the NICOT tradition. Hamilton's commen- 
tary will find a significant place among the resources of every student of Gen- 
esis. The editorial decision to terminate the first volume at chapter 17 hurts the 
discussion of the Terah tol e ddt. The publication of chapters 18-50 in the early 
summer of 1993 is eagerly awaited. 

David G. Barker 
London Baptist Seminary 


Understand the Book of Amos: Basic Issues in Current Interpretations, by Ger- 
hard F. Hasel. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. Pp. 171. Paper. 

The Book of Amos continues to receive a great deal of attention in OT 
scholarship. Within the past five years several major commentaries on Amos 
have appeared (e.g., Andersen and Freedman, Finley, Hays, Paul, Smith, Sog- 
gin, and Stuart), not to mention the numerous monographs and periodical arti- 
cles published in recent years. According to Hasel, scholars have produced 
more than 800 publications on Amos since 1969 (p. 14). The sheer volume of 
these scholarly works attests to the book's importance and relevance. 

The appearance of so many scholarly works, which represent diverse crit- 
ical approaches and a wide variety of interpretations, calls for a synthesis 
which surveys and evaluates recent interpretive developments. Hasel, who is 
well-known for his incisive and helpful surveys of OT and NT theology, has 
answered this call, providing those who study Amos with a useful introductory 
handbook which is both informative and provocative. 

After surveying the major stages in the interpretation of Amos over the 
last century, Hasel discusses recent interpretations of the prophet's back- 
ground, mission, and message. He addresses all of the major issues which have 
perplexed scholars, including, among others, the prophet's intellectual back- 
ground, social criticism, and eschatology, as well as the book's composition 
and the literary role of its oracles against the nations and hymnic doxologies. 
In each case Hasel demonstrates a thorough familiarity with the literature, 
including the most recent commentaries and specialized studies, though of 
necessity his surveys are somewhat selective. While being well-researched, 
balanced and fair, the discussions are not purely descriptive. Hasel also at- 
tempts to identify trends, raises questions which still need to be answered, and, 
in many cases, offers useful critiques of various views. One only wishes that 
the evaluations were more extensive and in-depth. The text of the book could 
be doubled in length and still serve as a concise and useable introduction. 

Hasel observes that many recent Amos studies move away from traditional 
diachronic approaches (form and redaction criticism) toward synchronic liter- 
ary approaches which focus on the text's canonical form and message, rather 
than its alleged redactional layers. As Hasel states, "The diachronic approach 
will continue to attract some scholars, but it is no longer at the cutting edge of 
research" (p. 99). Surely this is a welcome trend for evangelicals, many of 
whom have questioned the legitimacy of the redactional approach all along. 

Perhaps the book's concluding (and longest) chapter, in which Hasel ad- 
dresses the issue of Amos's eschatology, is the most helpful. The author dis- 
cusses the conditionality/unconditionality of Amos's message of judgment, the 
prophet's use of the "day of the Lord" and remnant motifs, and the authenticity 
of the concluding salvation prophecy (9:11-15). Hasel's final paragraph 
(pp. 119-20) is an especially well-balanced and perceptive statement of 
Amos's eschatology which harmonizes nicely the book's varied and at times 
seemingly contradictory themes. Hasel suggests (1) that Amos's proclamation 
of the "day of the Lord" was eschatological in scope, (2) that the prophesied 
end of the Northern Kingdom was "not an absolute end," but also made room 
for the preservation of a remnant of faith, and (3) that Amos was also a prophet 


of "eschatological hope" who looked "forward to a successful future" for 
God's reunited people. 

Another of the book's commendable features is its extensive bibliography 
(pp. 121-66), which contains over 1000 entries and supplements Adrian van 
der Wal's Amos: A Classified Bibliography (1986) by including over 350 pub- 
lications not found in the latter volume. 

Robert B. Chisholm 
Dallas Theological Seminary 

Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: A Commentary, by J. J. M. Roberts. The 
Old Testament Library. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox, 1991. 
Pp. 223. Cloth. 

Contributors to the volumes in the Old Testament Library commentary se- 
ries introduce each biblical book and divide it into sections for commentary. 
Each section contains a fresh translation, technical notes (especially lexical, 
grammatical, and text-critical observations), a general summary of the mean- 
ing, and a verse-by-verse analysis. This overall format makes the contributions 
quite useful for a variety of audience levels. Readers with at least a minimal 
exposure to Hebrew would profit the most from them, though the fact that the 
writers transliterate and translate all of the Hebrew makes these volumes help- 
ful for a much wider readership. The scholars who are participating in the 
project are generally noted for their expertise in modern critical methods (e.g., 
literary criticism, form criticism, etc.), and the conclusion about such matters 
will not always be acceptable to evangelicals. 

J. J. M. Roberts makes an excellent contribution to this series with his 
volume on Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah where his strengths lie in histor- 
ical and theological analysis. For an example of theological acumen, consider 
this statement on Nahum's emphasis on the vengeance of the Lord: 

The rule of Yahweh will not allow the oppressors to go unpunished. One 
should beware of any bogus morality that dismisses vengeance as both 
inappropriate to humans and unworthy of God. Such a view simply be- 
trays a glaring absence of the most elementary sense of justice. While the 
desire to see vengeance done can be twisted and corrupted like any other 
human desire, it arises out of a sense of justice, and vengeance cannot be 
discarded without discarding the concern for justice as well. (p. 49) 

Robert speaks further about the relationship between God's love and His judg- 
ment: "The God of the cross remains an awe-inspring, devouring fire (Deut. 
4:24; Heb. 10:26-31; 12:29). One cannot treat him lightly. God's love is an ex- 
pression of strength, not weakness" (p. 50). 

With regard to critical issues, Roberts takes a moderate view. He accepts 
the essential unity of all three prophetic books and argues in favor of the tradi- 
tional authorship by the prophets themselves. Roberts sometimes conjectures 
that isolated verses or phrases are "glosses" (explanations inserted at a later 
period). His attitude to the reality of prophecy can be illustrated by where he 


places Nahum in history. While he is unwilling to ascribe any concrete detail 
to the fulfillment of Nahum's prophecy (cf. p. 66), he does recognize that 
Nahum predicts the fall of Nineveh some 20-30 years before it happens. Rob- 
erts does not, however, disclose his view as to why Nahum was able to do that. 

Roberts makes some extreme statements about the form critical method of 
dividing a book into its basic units of interpretation (pp. 10-11), apparently 
advising the reader that the overall context of a prophetic book does not count 
for much in the process of interpretation. The way in which Roberts actually 
interprets his three prophets, however, tempers the force of his advice. Ha- 
bakkuk he finds exceptional: "... unlike the typical prophetic book, these or- 
acles have been arranged in the book of Habakkuk to develop a coherent, 
sequentially developed argument that extends through the whole book and to 
which each individual oracle contributes its part" (p. 81). It might be said that 
Roberts has done his best work in Habakkuk. But even for Nahum and 
Zephaniah, Roberts often finds connections between the individual oracles. 

With regard to textual criticism Roberts also takes a moderate approach. 
He is not by any means slavishly bound to the Masoretic Text. He reconstructs 
a partial alphabetic acrostic for Nahum 1:1-8 and offers numerous variant 
readings throughout the text of all three prophets. Roberts is usually careful to 
base his variants on solid evidence (e.g., the LXX or the Dead Sea Scrolls), 
though, and his constant reference to the versions and other Hebrew manu- 
scripts also forms a strong point of his commentary. This is not to say that 
Roberts does not sometimes abandon the MT too quickly. The commentaries 
on Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah by R. Patterson (Wycliffe Exegetical 
Commentary, 1991) and O. P. Robertson (NICOT, 1990) can serve as a check. 

To give some idea of the flavor of Roberts's work, his discussion about 
Habakkuk 2:4, for which he offers the following translation: "Now the faint- 
hearted, his soul will not walk in it,/ But the righteous person will live by its 
faithfulness" may serve as an example. The detailed notes show a combination 
of conjectural emendation ( c ap 16 instead of c uppela) and interpretation of the 
MT (taking ydserd as "to walk straight" instead of "be upright" and bo as "in 
it" instead of "in him"). This means, according to Roberts, that the fainthearted 
will fail to trust in the vision that God plans to reveal to Habakkuk, whereas 
the righteous person will live because of the trustworthiness of that vision. The 
vision itself can be found in Habakkuk 3:3-15, a description of "God's march 
to Palestine from his ancient home in the southern mountains" (p. 151). Rob- 
erts succeeds in giving an original and provocative interpretation, and it de- 
serves careful consideration by all students of Habakkuk. Lest it should be too 
hastily concluded that Roberts's analysis does not square with NT interpreta- 
tions (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38), he justifies the "slight shift of mean- 
ing" found there: "Nonetheless, the appropriate human response to the 
trustworthiness of the vision is to believe it and live in a way that reflects that 
faith" (p. 111). 

The comments on Zephaniah also contain many good observations, but 
Robert fails to deal adequately with the universality of judgment in the coming 
"day of the Lord." For example, he translates "land" instead of "earth" at 1:18 
and discounts 2:11 as an "isolated and apparently misplaced fragment" which 
may not belong to Zephaniah (p. 201). Also, his analysis is guided by the 


assumption that for Zephaniah, the "day of the Lord" is "a day of judgment on 
God's own people" (p. 164). The oracles against the nations (Zeph 2:14-15) all 
deal with historical judgments in preexilic times, according to Roberts. In con- 
trast, both Patterson and Robertson see an element of universal, eschatological 
judgment in Zephaniah's prophecies. 

Pastors and Bible teachers will find this volume a welcome addition to 
their library. Educated lay persons will find much to stimulate their thinking 
and faith. They may need additional guidance to help them sift through some 
of the critical issues. Scholars will see many things they have not thought of 
before. While many specific points for criticism could be mentioned, none of 
them would detract from the overall value of this fine work on three neglected 
but important books of the OT. 

Thomas J. Finley 
Talbot School of Theology 

Prophet Oracles of Salvation in the Old Testament, by Claus Westermann. 
Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991. (Translated). Pp. 283. Paper. 

The present volume is the fruit of the author's desire to investigate an area 
left untouched in his Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech (1967) which dealt only 
with those forms in which judgment was announced. Since this more recent 
work examines no less than 246 passages, Westermann recognizes its limita- 
tions. His primary desire is to make clear the necessity of investigating the sal- 
vation oracles in their prophetic contexts. His chief conclusion is that during 
Israel's exilic and postexilic periods we can identify two groups of salvation or- 
acles which stand in contrast to each other, much like the contrast that exists be- 
tween the prophets of salvation and prophets of judgment in the preexilic period. 

After a brief introductory chapter where Westermann provides the reader 
with an overview of his methodological approach, the material is divided into 
four main sections, followed by a chapter on excursuses related to the study 
and a chapter summarizing Westermann's conclusions. The book refers to rele- 
vant works in parentheses and provides the full citation in a bibliography at the 
end of the book. 

Certain books, once read, do not lend themselves to later consultation. 
The layout of this volume in addition to the Scripture index at the back makes 
it an easily accessible study tool. The clarity of the introductory chapter and 
the concluding summary chapter enable the reader to become quickly ac- 
quainted or reacquainted with Westermann's approach and conclusions. 

Westermann distances himself from certain methodological tendencies of 
the literary-critical method (not that he denies its place in OT studies). He as- 
serts that questions of authorship (whether a given passage is "genuine" or not) 
hinder rather than help the exegesis of a specific passage. He also contends that 
a prophetic saying is not merely the literary expression of a certain prophet's 
thoughts. Rather, they are statements addressed to specific hearers. The task of 
the exegete is to discover the Hebrew dabar, i.e., the words of a messenger 
given by Yahweh so that this messenger can speak them to the people of Israel. 
After distinguishing between oracles of judgment and those of salvation, Wes- 


termann explains his categorization of the latter as the "proclamation" rather 
than the "expectation" or "hope" of salvation. In fact, any expectation or hope 
of salvation may be foreign to the salvation oracle in question. Westermann 
does grant that a transition from proclamation to expectation of salvation does 
occur in the late stages of the oracles. 

Based on their structure and content, Westermann divides the salvation or- 
acles into four groups. Four principles guide him in this classification. First, he 
differentiates between salvation oracles found in collections (Deutero-Isaiah, 
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Trito-Isaiah, Micah, and Zephaniah) or inserted into collec- 
tions of judgment oracles and those oracles of salvation found in the midst of a 
historical report of a situation (as in the historical books). Second, the large 
number of oracles found in collections must be divided into a major group 
(Group 1) and three secondary groups (Groups 2-4). Third, those addressed to 
individuals must be separated from those addressed to a community. Fourth, the 
length of time between the giving of the announcement and the arrival of the 
announced deliverance must be considered. Finally, does the oracle simply pro- 
claim deliverance or does it also describe the promised state of well-being? 

Salvation oracles that are part of the various collections and that are ad- 
dressed to the community compose Group 1. This is by far the largest group 
(157 passages) and is typified by the oracles in Isaiah 40-55. The texts of 
Group 2 (39 passages) are for the most part short and are generally supplements 
to other texts. They proclaim destruction for Israel's enemies and at the same 
time salvation for Israel. Group 3 (34 passages found in the majority of pro- 
phetic books and especially in Jeremiah) are marked by conditional proclama- 
tions of salvation. This is due to the deuteronomistic reworking of the original 
oracles. Foundational to this argument is the conclusion that the conditional or- 
acle derives its function from a deuteronomistic hortatory reworking (paraene- 
sis) which occurred after the fall of the southern kingdom. Exhortation takes the 
place of prophecy and the conditional oracle derives its function from a deuter- 
onomistic hortatory reworking (paraenesis) which occurred after the fall of the 
southern kingdom. Exhortation takes the place of prophecy and the conditional 
oracles replace the unconditional. Group 4 (16 passages) consists of texts in 
which the prophetic proclamation of salvation is combined with a motif of piety 
of late Wisdom literature — the fate of the pious and the fate of the wicked. Pas- 
sages in this group are primarily brief additions (insertions) to a number of pro- 
phetic texts and are addressed to individuals. 

Westermann is to be commended for focusing his study on OT prophetic 
oracles of salvation. As one of the leading figures in form-critical studies his 
investigation deserves consideration. In addition to his examination of a large 
number of passages, he summarizes the significant motifs in each section and 
devotes an excursus to the use of introductory formulas in salvation oracles. 

However, the foundational structure of Westermann's study is based on a 
fourfold grouping that is not above question and may be seriously flawed. This 
criticism is primarily directed to the three secondary groups. Group 1 consists 
of salvation oracles that are relatively easy to demarcate. While Westermann 
does well to avoid the authorship issue as a key principle in his examination of 
salvation oracles, the "short" additions and insertions that make up the three 
secondary groups assume certain compositional decisions (i.e., what is genuine 


and what is not). Group 3 is built upon at least two questionable conclusions/ 
assumptions. In the first place, the mutual exclusivity of unconditional and 
conditional salvation oracle does an injustice to the interwovenness of those 
motifs throughout the OT. Secondly, this clear break between unconditional 
and conditional oracles is built on the critical view of deuteronomistic tradi- 
tion. In question is not the cohesiveness of Deuteronomy-2 Kings nor the in- 
tentional nature of that cohesiveness. At issue is whether the deuteronomistic 
reworking was greatly different from the original material. Westermann's dis- 
cussion assumes a massive reworking. Finally, the late dating of Wisdom liter- 
ature is an unproven assumption of the fourth group. It is also disappointing 
that he does not interact with E. Conrad's suggestion that the gattung normally 
identified as a "salvation oracle" actually involves two different gattungen: the 
war oracle and the patriarchal oracle (with a slightly different function than the 
salvation oracle). 

As to mechanical problems, this reviewer found very few typographical 
problems (e.g., p. 40, "is" should be "it"). There were a few bibliographical er- 
rors (i.e., discrepancies between the information given in the body of the book 
and that in the bibliography). Compare the citation of Weippert's work (pp. 42, 
276), Conrad's first article (pp. 42, 274), and Nicholson (pp. 227, 275). A few 
sources referred to in the body of the text are not included in the bibliography 
(Ahuis, p. 145; and Bracke, Baumann, and Dietrich, p. 259). E. Conrad's arti- 
cle on the "Fear not" oracles is from VT 34 (1984), not ZAW 96 (19&4) (pp. 42, 
294). Finally, the book presumes a certain degree of knowledge on the part of 
the reader concerning the various gattungen. The addition of a brief survey of 
the main features and primary function of the gattungen alluded to throughout 
this work would enhance the book's profitability. 

Although this review finds several points of disagreement with Wester- 
mann, his treatment of such a large number of passages can be read with profit. 
Throughout the book there are insights that are both enlightening and helpful. 

Michael A. Grisanti 
Central Baptist Theological Seminary 

A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, edited by Roy B. Zuck. Chicago: 
Moody Press, 1991. Pp. ix + 446. Cloth. 

In any area of study, an understanding of the details of a specific disci- 
pline dictates his grasp of the big picture. In OT biblical studies, understanding 
the theological message of the entire testament as well as its major sections is 
essential to a proper interpretation of its individual passages. 

The book under review takes several strides toward helping each reader 
better understand the big picture of OT biblical theology. The volume has a 
readability that will make it useful to any serious student of the Bible as well 
as the depth to contribute significantly to a seminarian's understanding of the 
OT. The present work on OT theology (the companion volume on NT theology 
is forthcoming) is the product of five authors, all professors at Dallas Theolog- 
ical Seminary. The biblical material is divided into eleven chapters, based on 
chronological, literary, and/or thematic concerns. Thomas Constable delineates 


the theology of Joshua-Ruth and Homer Heater examines Samuel and Kings. 
Roy Zuck analyzes the Wisdom literature and the Song of Solomon. Eugene 
Merrill considers the message of the Pentateuch, the Chronicles, Ezra-Esther, 
and Ezekiel and Daniel. Robert Chisholm examines the Psalter and the rest of 
the prophetic corpus. 

The text has several commendable features that enhance the readability 
and retention of its contents. The abundance of headings and subheadings (up 
to four levels) allows the reader to follow the authors' development and paves 
the way for easy reference to the various sections. The two indices (subject and 
person) also enhance the useability of the volume. Although the book has no 
bibliography, the numerous footnotes provide full citations. 

In the introduction Merrill distinguishes biblical theology from systematic 
and sets forth the objectives of this volume. While the two theological disci- 
plines are not mutually exclusive, biblical theology is unique from systematic 
in that it is inductive, finds its theological categories and emphases within the 
Bible itself, and is diachronic. Ideally, biblical theology paves the way for sys- 
tematic theology. 

Each contributor surveys a specific section of the Bible from an analytical 
and inductive stance and extracts from it those themes and emphases that recur 
with such regularity that they constitute their own theological rubrics. 

Genesis 1:26-28 provides the theological center for the Old Testament, 
i.e., the extension of God's rule over the earth. God creates man in His image 
to represent Himself as the sovereign over all creation. Although man's fall 
soon frustrates this mandate, the problem is redressed by means of a covenant 
arrangement (Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, and Mosaic). The Abrahamic and 
Mosaic covenants constitute and enable Israel to be God's servant nation, 
charged with the responsibility of bridging the gap between the transcendent 
Creator and His creatures. Most of Exodus through Deuteronomy is a develop- 
ment of the terms of that servanthood. The theological thread running through 
Samuel and Kings is God's choice of a leader to represent Him as He imple- 
ments His covenants with Israel. 

Chronicles, written after Israel's return to the promised land, focuses on 
the Davidic monarchy as a theocratic expression of God's sovereign elective 
and redemptive purposes for His people and ultimately for all nations. Through 
His establishment of a covenant with the Davidic dynasty, the Lord has offered 
to all peoples a model of His dominion and a means of their participation in it. 

Ezra and Nehemiah are written to the postexilic Jews who began to ques- 
tion the hope of full restoration to glory. These two volumes affirm the validity 
of that hope and challenge the remnant to do the same. Esther demonstrates 
that God's purposes cannot be stymied because He is forever loyal to His cove- 
nant with His eternally elected nation. 

Although Wisdom literature is different than the majority of the Old Tes- 
tament (more universal and individualistic than the historical/narrative mate- 
rial and more reflective than the prophetic), it forms an integral part of OT 
theology. It is firmly connected to the rest of the OT via three significant mo- 
tifs: the fear of the Lord, the Law, and creation. 

The Psalms contain Israel's expressions of faith in God and the nation's 
responses to His self-revelation in word and deed. The message of the Psalter 


is that God (as the Creator of all things) exercises sovereign authority over the 
natural order, the nations, and Israel. The proper response to this sovereign 
King is trust and praise. 

Each of the major prophets and Lamentations (treated in three separate 
chapters in the text under review) assert that the Lord will fulfill His ideal for 
Israel by purifying His people through judgment and then restoring them to a 
renewed covenant relationship. Jerusalem will be the center of His worldwide 
kingdom and once-hostile nations will be reconciled to Himself. 

The eighth-century prophets (Hosea, Amos, Micah) condemn covenant vi- 
olations and anticipate the ultimate restoration of God' s people (based on pro- 
visions of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants). The prophets from the 
seventh-century (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah) focus on the justice of God as 
exhibited in powerful judgment on an international scale. Finally, the sixih and 
fifth-century prophets (Joel, Obadiah, Haggai, and Zechariah) affirm that the re- 
alization of the promised restoration will take place, but it will not be automatic. 

This volume is a "must buy" for all those interested in clearly communi- 
cating God's Word to others. Many are unable to take the time to "get the big 
picture" of a given section of the Old Testament before they begin an exposi- 
tory series. This volume lucidly provides the "big picture" for the various sec- 
tions of the Old Testament as well as an introduction to the theological 
cohesiveness of the Old Testament as a whole. Kenneth Barker in the forward 
comments that "it is the best evangelical volume to appear on the subject of 
biblical theology in my lifetime, and I hope it will be widely welcomed and 
used, as it deserves to be" (x). 

Michael A. Grisanti 
Central Baptist Theological Seminary 

The Gospel According to John, by Donald A. Carson. Leicester, England: 
InterVarsity Press; Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991. 
Pp. 715. Cloth. 

The preface of D. A. Carson's commentary on John declares the purpose 
of the commentary to be "the explanation of the text of John's Gospel to those 
whose privilege and responsibility it is to minister the Word of God to others, 
to preach and to lead Bible studies." Further, it is designed so that "the in- 
formed layperson could also use the work in personal study of the Bible." This 
is to be accomplished through four facets of methodology: a focus on flow, or 
movement of thought; engagement with a representative part of secondary lit- 
erature; discussion of the Gospel's contribution to Biblical and Systematic the- 
ology; and finally, an exposition of the Gospel as primarily evangelistic. 

If the identification of audience leads to the assumption that the commen- 
tary is more popular than scholarly, this misunderstanding is quickly laid to 
rest in the introductory discussion. Carson examines the history of interpreta- 
tion of the Gospel, the various critical approaches taken to it, its relationship to 
the synoptics, and its unity in an introduction that alone is worth the price of 
the book. Carson traces the history of interpretation from the Fathers to Bult- 


mann (via Strauss) to recent commentators and scholars such as Raymond 
Brown, Barnabus Lindars, and particularly, Alan Culpepper in his work Anat- 
omy of the Fourth Gospel. Some of the conclusions Carson defends are: the 
strong possibility that John himself is the source of the present form of the 
Gospel, the stylistic unity of the Gospel bearing witness to a "unified authorial 
stamp that makes the pursuit of sources a dubious enterprise"; a relationship of 
the fourth Gospel to the Synoptics that is neither direct literary dependence nor 
some correction of the synoptics, but rather an "interlocking tradition"; a back- 
ground that is founded in the Old Testament, but not opposed to hellenistic 
phrases and concepts which are filled with Old Testament content; a tentative 
affirmation that John the son of Zebedee is the beloved disciple and also the 
author of the Gospel; and that the Gospel has as its purpose evangelism, partic- 
ularly the evangelization of Jews and the Jewish proselytes. Carson argues for 
these with clarity and evidence, and demonstrates that his position makes at 
least as much sense of the evidence as do more sceptical views. 

The body of the commentary contains Carson's exposition, which is con- 
sistently framed to give support to the conclusions presented in the introduc- 
tion. Interpretive options are usually laid out well, though at times they can be 
difficult to locate, probably as a result of Carson's attempt to keep the work 
readable. While he occasionally describes the work as "brief" (as in "in such a 
brief work we cannot pursue . . . "), the 575 pages of exposition would cer- 
tainly be daunting to many of those for whom the work is addressed. 

Three main strengths in the commentary proper may be observed. The 
first is the exposition of the Old Testament quotations and allusions. Carson 
shows these to be primarily typological, and develops both the Old and New 
Testament contexts to explain the paradigm John is utilizing. The second ma- 
jor strength is that the exposition consistently defends in an able manner the 
authenticity and unity of the Gospel with arguments that are buttressed by evi- 
dence rather than emotion. The third strength found is that though he does not 
make full use of them in Biblical theology (see below), Carson capably points 
out throughout the work particular narrative devices used by John. These in- 
clude phrases such as "night/darkness," "my time/my hour," "ego eimi" and 
such literary devices as the misunderstanding motif, irony and inclusio. 

Perhaps the major weakness of the commentary is its failure to develop 
more thoroughly the biblical theology of the. Gospel. Carson would perhaps at- 
tribute this to the brevity and scope of the work. He touches on but does not 
adequately develop John's particular theological grid. For instance, while the 
exposition refers to faith that is less than regenerative there is no developed 
discussion of levels of faith in John. The use of "ego eimi" on Jesus' lips is 
often seen to be devoid of theological implication. This is especially surprising 
in 6:19 where it is accompanied by "do not be afraid," a common Old Testa- 
ment phrase accompanying the promise of the presence of Yahweh with His 
people. The misunderstanding motif is mentioned and described, but no theo- 
logical development accompanies it (is there not some tie to synoptic parables 
which accomplish much the same purpose of both revealing and concealing?). 

Carson's work on John is a valuable tool that could well become the stan- 
dard for the careful homiletician. It is probably too detailed and difficult for all 
but the most informed of laypersons. For those in academics it will certainly 


take its place among the important works, but should probably be supple- 
mented with the more developed biblical theology of the commentaries by 
Brown or Schnackenburg. 

Jerry D. Col well 
London Baptist Bible College 

Matthew, by Richard B. Gardner. Believers Church Bible Commentary, 
E. Martens and H. Charles, eds. Scottsdale, PA: Herald, 1991. Pp. 448. Paper. 

This book is the third to be published in the Believers Church Series, a joint 
effort of six Mennonite and Brethren denominations. The series is intended pri- 
marily as a teaching resource for pastors and other Bible teachers in parish min- 
istries and as a college and seminary textbook. Thus it strives for readability as 
well as careful exposition. Each section concludes with short essays on "The 
Text in Biblical Context" and "The Text in the Life of the Church." These es- 
says address biblical theology and believers' church perspectives, including be- 
lievers' baptism, commitment to Matt 18:15-20, and an emphasis on loving 
relationships and the way of the cross. The series is based on the conviction that 
the Spirit of God still speaks today through the living and authoritative Word. 
Yet it acknowledges that the believers' church tradition has often devalued his- 
torical-critical scholarship and it seeks to incorporate historical-critical insights. 

Gardner, a member of the Church of the Brethren who teaches New Tes- 
tament at Bethany Theological Seminary in Oak Brook, IL, has also served as 
a writer and pastor. He acknowledges his debt to Matthean scholars J. D. 
Kingsbury, U. Luz, J. Meier, E. Schweizer, and D. Senior. He has chosen the 
New Revised Standard Version Bible as the basis of the commentary. He be- 
lieves that the author of the first gospel was an unknown Jewish Christian with 
possible links to a community influenced by the Apostle Matthew. This author 
used the Gospel of Mark as his basic source but also collected his material 
from other sources, including a written "Q." Gardner's approach to the overall 
structure of Matthew acknowledges the five blocks of alternating narrative and 
discourse material as well as the recurring phrase "from that time Jesus be- 
gan ..." (4:17; 16:21). Finding these views of Matthew's structure unsatisfac- 
tory, he opts instead for a topical outline with six main sections, but his 
reasons for this approach are not stated. The amount of space given to intro- 
ductory concerns (5 pages) is quite inadequate, though this problem is amelio- 
rated somewhat by discussions of terms relating to introductory themes in the 
glossary at the end of the book. 

Each pericope is handled with an introductory "preview," an outline, ex- 
planatory notes based on the outline, and the essays on the text in biblical and 
modern church contexts. The outline is based on careful analysis, though the 
titles given to the pericopes have a sermonic flavor. Gardner invites the reader 
to enter three worlds, the narrative world of the plot developed in the story, the 
historical world of the community for which the story was written, and the 
broader world of God's relationship with His people from the days of the Old 
Testament until now. No doubt these three perspectives are helpful, but conser- 
vative evangelicals may be uneasy that the world of the historical Jew is omitted. 


The strengths of this commentary reflect Gardner's skills in synthesizing 
critical scholarship, present Matthew from the perspectives of literary criticism 
and biblical theology, and applying Matthew to current believers' church con- 
cerns. He has unpacked a great deal of scholarship and presented it in readable 
fashion. Readers should gain a better understanding of Matthew's plot and the 
place of Matthew in the flow of redemptive history. And they will be chal- 
lenged by Matthew's message to live according to the teaching of Jesus in the 
world today. 

The weaknesses of the commentary render it a dubious choice as a text- 
book, especially for graduate studies. The introduction to Matthew is brief and 
fails to address the identity of the intended audience. The discussion is lucid 
but generally lacks depth in dealing with details. Controversial texts and issues 
are handled with little mention of opposing viewpoints, let alone a rationale for 
accepting the viewpoint reached by the author. Thus the book should be of 
great value for parish Bible teaching, especially in a believers' church setting, 
but its usefulness in Christian higher education may be limited. 

David L. Turner 
Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary 

Jesus and the Forgotten City: New Light on the Urban World of Jesus, by 
Richard A. Batey. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991. Pp. 224. Cloth. 

This interesting little book succeeds in challenging the reader to think of 
Jesus in a different light than most of us are accustomed to thinking of Him. 
Instead of a rural youth from the uncultured hinterland of Galilee, He should 
be seen as a rather cosmopolitan individual, well-acquainted with the arts, pol- 
itics, economy and commerce of a bustling Greco-Roman metropolis. 

The occasion for this challenge is the excavations at the city of Sepphoris 
in which author Batey participated. This city, which is not mentioned in the 
Bible, is just three miles north of Nazareth and virtually in eyesight of the vil- 
lage of Jesus's boyhood. What the archaeologists have found since 1980 is a 
city built by Antipas in the years following its destruction in 4 b.c. It was the 
seat of government for Antipas, encircling within its stout defensive walls the 
royal residence, administrative buildings, a Roman-style theater, baths, and all 
the accoutrements of a prosperous city. 

Batey stresses the significance of the theater at Sepphoris for some of the 
imagery used by Jesus, especially "hypocrite" or stage actor. He certainly 
makes some useful connections, and it is interesting that a major theater ex- 
isted so near the home of Jesus. It helps establish that the metaphors would be 
meaningful to His audience. Yet its existence is not necessary for Jesus to use 
the imagery any more than a modern speaker needs first-hand acquaintance 
with gambling to use a phrase such as "an ace up his sleeve." 

Batey writes with much enthusiasm, sometimes breaking into the present 
tense with all the drama of a best-seller. His book thus serves to provide some 
background to the Gospels and give the reader a flavor of the material culture 
of Palestine in the days of Jesus. It is especially useful in bringing attention to 
the excavations of a city that is rarely considered as figuring in the life of our 


Lord. Readers will likely note, however, a tendency toward hyperbole and 
drawing more conclusions than the evidence warrants. (See, additionally, the 
harsh reviews of Batey's book in Biblical Archaeologist, June 1992). 

Much of the text of Batey's book comprises a retelling of some of the par- 
ables of Jesus and a recitation of the events in His ministry. One should not 
come to this book expecting a scholarly description of the excavations at Sep- 
phoris. It would be better to consult Eric M. Meyers's Sepphoris (Eisenbrauns, 
1992) for details of the excavations. 

Part of the title of Batey's book, The Forgotten City, apparently provoked 
Stuart S. Miller to the point of writing a substantial article in Biblical Archae- 
ologist (June 1992, pp. 74-83, titled "Sepphoris, the Well Remembered City." 
Miller demonstrates that Sepphoris was known to many pilgrims and writers of 
the Jewish and Christian traditions. It is thus an overstatement for Batey to say 
in the Conclusion, "We had rediscovered a forgotten city." It should be noted, 
however, that not only is Sepphoris not mentioned in the New Testament, but 
it is also absent in some reference books, such as Interpreter's Dictionary of 
the Bible (including the supplement volume) and the new Dictionary of Jesus 
and the Gospels. This reader, unacquainted as he was with Sepphoris, found 
Batey's book to be useful for stimulating interest in the recent excavations. 
Batey is to be thanked for bringing the city again to the notice of Bible readers. 

Robert Ibach 
Dallas Theological Seminary 

Archaeology and the New Testament, by John McRay. Grand Rapids: Baker 
Book House, 1991. Pp. 432. 

This volume is a welcome contribution to every student of the New Testa- 
ment who has more than a casual interest in archaeology. Its author has had 
long and rich experience as a field archaeologist as well as a teacher, and he 
knows how to present his material accurately, clearly, and attractively. He is 
professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School. 

There has been a need for an up-to-date and thorough discussion of New 
Testament archaeology. Finegan's work (published in 1969 under the title Ar- 
chaeology of the New Testament) implied more than it delivered inasmuch as it 
was limited mostly to sites in Palestine. McRay, however, has done a superb 
piece of work in covering sites throughout the first century world that have a 
bearing on the New Testament text. 

This volume is generously illustrated with more than 150 photographs, 
along with numerous diagrams, maps, and charts, most of which are the au- 
thor's and are well done. An exceedingly helpful introductory chapter covers 
such topics as the role of archaeology in NT studies, limitations of archaeology 
as proof, Biblical archaeology, the technology of excavation, and basic meth- 
ods of excavation. Even the casual reader should find this chapter interesting. 

The author includes information regarding most of the sites where excava- 
tions have occurred, together with helpful diagrams and/or photographs. In 
many instances personal reminiscences are included, and it is obvious that the 


author has had firsthand experience over many years at some of the most 
significant excavations in Bible lands. 

This work is more, however, than just an anthology of excavation sites. 
The author interweaves the Biblical narrative with the physical remains, and 
provides thought-provoking insights. He suggests, for example, with numerous 
reasons that John the Baptist may have had ties with Qumran (pp. 160-61). 
His discussion of the Asiarchs offers evidence that the office of Asiarch and 
that of priest were separate at Ephesus, thus easing the awkwardness of Paul's 
friendship with the Asiarchs, who have sometimes been described as priests of 
the emperor cult (pp. 255-56). 

As a handbook of archaeological information pertaining to the New Testa- 
ment, this work is up-to-date and it delivers what its title implies. It was one of 
the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. It will be in my hands 
during my next trip to Israel. One typo was noted on page 117, line 1. 

Homer A. Kent 

The World of Biblical Literature, by Robert Alter. New York: Basic Books, 
1992. Pp. 225. 

"The Bible, as I have tried to show throughout this volume, is literature 
before it is anything else, and so to read it 'as literature' really means to read it 
again — in its compelling immediacy, in the momentum of its complex continu- 
ities. That process of reading, full of challenges and discoveries, long ago 
helped to shape our collective lives, and it may still have a vital task to per- 
form" (p. 210). This pair of concluding sentences in Professor Alter's succes- 
sor to The Art of Biblical Narrative (1981) and The Art of Biblical Poetry 
(1985) provides a useful three-part structure for summarizing the full argument 
presented in the book and judging its applicability to evangelicals. 

Alter chiefly wants "to consider the fundamental assumptions that under- 
lie any possible literary reading of the Bible" (p. x) and to articulate "an appre- 
hension of that world of writing, how it turns, how and why it is literary" 
(p. xii). Written for a general audience, the nine chapters of The World employ 
few scholarly notes, far more translations than quotations of Hebrew, and the 
fluid style that hallmarks Alter's prose. Granted, five of the chapters are re- 
prints or revisions of previously-published essays (three from Commentary 
magazine), but the finely-crafted writing here pays a fitting tribute to the liter- 
ary excellence of the Bible. But Alter provides more than proper words in 
proper places — specifically an impressive array of readings that shows the vi- 
tality and necessity of literary criticism in exegesis. 

The first major principle in Alter's concluding sentences, quoted above, is 
how Scripture should be defined as fundamentally literary. Chapters 1-4, con- 
veying the tone and texture of all nine, supply good answers. Ch. 1 contrasts 
the centuries-old divergence of views about the authorship, date of composi- 
tion, and structure of individual books with the remarkable consensus of schol- 
arly opinion about the literary artistry within the final text; according to ch. 2, 
the biblical authors did not ignore literary interests or even subjugate them to 
religious agendas; and ch. 3 illustrates the "distinctive poetics [that informs] 


biblical narrative and biblical poetry" in order to show how the newer literary 
criticism improves upon the older automistic studies and archaeological digs 
called textual emendations. Then in ch. 4 Alter presents an unusually compel- 
ling case for rethinking the nature of literal meaning in the Bible; in fact, he 
sees "no real contradiction between the literal and figurative readings of narra- 
tive" because the literal data in the text spark the figurative readings that, at 
some point, must return to the data for stability and coherence. This argument 
alone is worth the investment of time and money in the book, though numerous 
details elsewhere provide additional rewards. 

The second important principle in Alter's conclusion refers to the "com- 
pelling immediacy" and "complex continuities" of the biblical text. Probably 
the best discussion of these qualities appears in ch. 5 (titled "Allusion and Lit- 
erary Expression"), which explains how the "density of allusion" in Scripture 
is not extraneous nicety but indispensable statement — not embellishment but, 
quite literally, the essence of the text. Alter's task, well executed and highly 
readable, is to explain how allusion helps to organize narrative exposition and 
to suggest actual content. Frequently, for example, biblical authors will repeat 
nearly verbatim an earlier clause or phrase, the slight alteration intended to re- 
veal a change in the latter author's attitude or opinion about the episode. In 
2 Sam 13:9ff. appear allusions to Gen 45: 1, 39:7, and others, all of which adds 
"thematic depth" to the account of Amnon's violation of Tamar (pp. 113-17). 
Therefore, Alter reasons, the Joseph narrative is not a curious archaeological 
footnote to 2 Sam 13 but an integrated, dynamic stimulus and structure for its 
composition. This argument has a couple of important theoretical problems, 
summarized below, but in fairness to the immediate context and to the other 
fine examples, Alter presents ample evidence for the powerful immediacy and 
complex continuity of Scripture. 

The final major concept in Alter's conclusion is the potential influence of 
Bible reading upon American society. If GTJ readers are much more confident 
about this potential, Alter's hesitancy may be well-founded. Scripture reading 
does have a vital function to perform, if people will do it well and if conserva- 
tives in particular will include literary analysis in exegesis. Sadly, neither con- 
dition is common now, despite the twenty years of fruitful research in the field. 
This development, in turn, heightens the relevance of several implications of 
Alter's argument. First, grammatical-historical exegesis alone is inadequate 
and undermines the inherent appeal of the Bible to readers; the text must be 
read literarily also. Second, the bible is not a sterile laboratory specimen to be 
dissected but a dynamic, organic unity ready to stimulate and instruct. And 
third, powerful preaching and teaching of Scripture must include literary anal- 
ysis and sensitivity. 

Most provocative arguments display some weaknesses and The World is 
no exception. In fact, one particular problem raises questions that the book 
lacks either the theory, occasion, or context to address well. Alter's rejection of 
divine inspiration and inerrancy (pp. 193ff.) dissociates exegesis from an or- 
thodox position on biblical authorship, preventing any claim about the veracity 
of the text based upon the character of its Author. Such division, moreover, 
can lead to endless catacombs of needless complexity and confusion. For ex- 


ample, what better rationale than inerrancy would support Alter's (insightful) 
explications that depend so heavily upon precise wording in the original? In 
addition, Alter's plea for a rereading of the Bible is laudable enough; but why 
read, much less reread, the Bible anyway? "[S]hap[ing] our collective lives," 
however noble and useful, is not an adequate reason. One reads the Bible ulti- 
mately to know its Author and to submit to its (and to His) authority — no pun 
intended. This motivation demands scrupulous attention to the imaginative di- 
mension of biblical artistry; but more importantly, it highlights the crucial re- 
lationship between the doctrine of inspiration and one's basic assumptions 
about the theory of reading. 

These principles lie outside Alter's book and will prompt some readers to 
raise crucial questions. What is the nature of textual authority? Wherein lies 
the authority of Alter's own text? Why are not his explications mere vapors 
that appear for awhile and then pass away? Is the entire project of critical ex- 
amination (of Scripture or of any text) ultimately and inescapably rooted in 
pure aesthetics and total subjectivity? perhaps most relevant to The World is 
the question Why is Scripture fundamentally and preeminently literature? The 
only answer consistent with Alter's method is that the final text is artful writ- 
ing. Evangelical readers hoping for a more fully developed answer, one built 
upon the attributes of God (including His appreciation for beauty, creativity, 
balance, texture, color, and form), will have to look elsewhere. 

These unresolved issues are more than offset, however, by the range and 
depth of Alter's study. Given the serious theological reservations just men- 
tioned, conservative Christians must read, discuss, and assimilate the instruc- 
tion that pervades this book. Then will appear — within the very pages of God's 
Word — the compelling, centuries-old artistry that has shaped the landscape 
within the world of biblical literature. 

Branson L. Woodard, Jr. 
Liberty University 

New 20th-century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 2d ed., edited by 
J. D. Douglas. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991. Pp. 896. Cloth. 

The New 20th-century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (NTCERK) 
is a revised edition of the Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowl- 
edge, which appeared in 1955 to supplement the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia 
of Religious Knowledge (1886). The intent of the revised edition is to present a 
retrospective view of twentieth-century church history by looking at the peo- 
ple, events, and ideas that have shaped its course. It is no longer considered a 
supplement to Schaff-Herzog and can be used without having access to the 
thirteen-volume work. 

NTCERK contains about 2100 articles written by 365 contributors, a few 
from third-world countries. The articles are more from an evangelical perspec- 
tive than the 1955 edition. About half the articles are short biographies. Topical 
articles are generally longer and include such categories as denominations, so- 
cial and political issues, countries, organizations, movements, cults, gatherings, 


and ecclesiastical, biblical, and theological terms. Two-thirds of the articles are 
new. Material retained from the first edition consists mostly of biographical 
sketches. All retained material has been updated, especially the bibliographies 
at the end of the articles. 

The biographies do not include anyone who died before 1900. There are a 
few biographical oversights, such as omitting the death date of R. G. Lee 
(1978) and several others. The article on A. T. Robertson lists 18 works, but 
omits his magnun opus, A Grammar of New Testament Greek in the Light of 
Historical Research. The biographies are mostly Protestant, with some Catho- 
lic, Orthodox, and Jewish persons. It also includes some who have influenced 
the thought of this century from outside the Judeo-Christian faith, such as John 
Dewey, Anthony Flew, Sigmund Freud, Mahatma Gandhi, William James, 
Carl Jung, Arnold Toynbee, and Alfred North Whitehead. 

The work is to be commended for its focus on contemporary issues and 
trends. There are articles on such topics as abortion, AIDS, apartheid, bioeth- 
ics, censorship, church and state, encounter groups, euthanasia, homosexuality, 
human rights, psychotherapy, and surrogacy. It also presents articles on East- 
ern religions and New Age themes, although not as many as would be expected 
from such an influential movement. Articles include astrology, Buddhism, 
guru, Hinduism, magic, meditation, New Thought, occultism, parapsychology, 
spiritism, and theosophy. Conspicuously absent are articles on reincarnation 
and Satanism. Trends within Christendom are also covered (e.g., charismatic 
movement, black religion, fundamentalism, liberalism, liberation theology). 

The articles on biblical and theological themes trace the developments, in- 
terpretations, and debates during this century. Thus there is not the overlap one 
might suspect with Bible dictionaries and theological encyclopedias. The arti- 
cles on countries focus on their religious conditions. One of the longest articles 
is a twenty-page summary of Bible translations in various languages. 

The major shortcoming is the insufficient number of cross references. If 
one were to look up "evolution" or "moral majority," he would find neither an 
article nor a cross reference to where the information is found (i.e., the science 
and religion article or the biography on Jerry Falwell). 

In summary, the work achieves its purpose with a broad spectrum of 
up-to-date, scholarly, and readable articles. In spite of a few weaknesses, 
NTCERK is a useful ready-reference source for theological and public librar- 
ies and can be of value to pastors, professors, and lay people as well. 

Richard A. Young 
Chattanooga, TN 

Speaking from the Depths: Alfred North Whitehead' s Hermeneutical Meta- 
physics of Propositions, Experience, Symbolism, Language and Religion, by 
Stephen T. Franklin. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 
1990. Pp. 410. Cloth. 

Speaking from the Depths by Stephen Franklin (former professor of 
Theology at Wheaton) is a massive examination, exposition, and especially 


interpretation of the profound and difficult processive vision of British 
mathematician-philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. While it could be said 
that this work had its origins in a doctoral dissertation at the University of Chi- 
cago, its real origins lie in Franklin's own quest to discover a way of explaining 
how human language can speak of God. In the aftermath of the earlier "posi- 
tivistic" and narrow views of language (e.g., A. J. Ayer and the later Witt- 
genstein), Franklin has found in Whitehead "a profound metaphysical vision 
which allowed for the possibility of God-language conveying genuine claims 
about what is the case ... set in a nuanced description of human language in 
general." It is with this in mind that Franklin examines and interprets White- 
head's thought in a consciously constructive way in order to lay the effectual 
groundwork for a more evangelical or orthodox use of Whitehead's insights for 
expressing its faith and doctrinal expressions of that faith than has been the rule 
in the past. 

Speaking from the Depths is set forth in four major sections and subdi- 
vided into twenty chapters in which the book's consecutive argumentation is 
built. Part one is where Franklin sets up the larger Whiteheadian vision of re- 
ality, the "big picture," which will form the necessary context or background 
within which the ensuing discussion takes place. This is also the most difficult 
of all the sections because of the very abstract nature of the "Process" perspec- 
tive and Whitehead's manner of expression, including vocabulary and defini- 
tions. The reader, having been thus "educated," is more able later to progress 
from the crucial groundwork to the following development with greater facil- 
ity. But part one also deals (as its title says) with "propositions." In Whitehead 
these "propositions are more foundational than symbolism, language or reli- 
gion." Also, "propositions" fit more directly into the Whiteheadian "big pic- 
ture" that Franklin is attempting to construct. Franklin's focus on Whitehead's 
understanding of the nature and stages of "concrescence" (concretizing) and 
the relation between this process in actual entities (especially human beings) 
and the way of "prehension" of past actual entities into the present process of 
"concrescence" as this relates to truth, consciousness, objectification and actu- 
ality is specifically important. Franklin's discussion of Whitehead's protest 
against the Kantian bifurcation of nature or reality, a perspective that has long 
cursed modern theology, is significant. Still, the question of the adequacy of 
Whitehead's answer remains — Monism is not an option for Christian theology. 

Parts two and three on Symbolism and Language are not only related con- 
cerning Franklin's interpretation and theological application of Whitehead's 
thought, but together begin to dramatically narrow the discussion toward the 
author's real concern. Truth, consciousness, objectification, etc., initially set in 
the context of "propositions" must be reckoned in relation to experience, sense 
perceptions and language as forms of symbolism. Part two, put briefly, estab- 
lishes the process view of the "present" situation as the world relates to the 
past, which it has "prehended" (taken in) to the future and to the whole of re- 
ality (world) wherein everything happens and wherein every actual entity (such 
as persons) "concresces" (develops) toward ultimate "satisfaction" (comple- 
tion). For human beings this opens and develops consciousness, intellectual 
feelings, etc., which are necessary for coherence, symbolic reference and the 
critical emergence of language. 


Whitehead's theory of language is the portion of this intense book where 
most pieces begin to come together. It is in this section that the Whiteheadian 
conclusions are established which found the bases upon which Whitehead's 
discussion of religious language (part four) and the necessity of doctrine or 
theology are expressed. As part of Whitehead's larger theory of symbolism, 
language whether ordinary or metaphysical, is that by which a person experi- 
ences and understands the world. The "initial" subjective aim "which God 
gives to all actual entities" can only be elicited or given explicitness for the ad- 
vanced stages of concrescence (i.e. humans) through language. One's experi- 
ence in a context/culture is largely colored by language. What Franklin is 
pointing out is that there is a real connection between experience and the lin- 
guistic structures which arise from it. Experience is always first for Whitehead, 
but how we experience and the content of that experience is largely formed by 
language, itself a received way of seeing the world. Franklin's discussion of 
Whitehead's comparison or ordinary and metaphysical language, which is to be 
contrasted with the views of logical positivism, is very important. Ordinary 
and metaphysical language are alike in some ways and different in others. 
Franklin shows how, while metaphysical language is more abstract and gen- 
eral, both (ordinary and metaphysical) have a relation to the symbolized prop- 
ositions they are intended to express. Indeed, after preliminary discussion, 
Franklin shows how Whitehead overturns the usual way of expressing such re- 
lation by asserting that ordinary language is analogical while metaphysical lan- 
guage is univocal. Much more is discussed by Franklin with regard to 
Whitehead's highly significant understanding of the nature and rule of lan- 
guage, but its application to "Religion" has been Franklin's focus. 

Finally, upon the whole of Whitehead's explanation of the act of under- 
standing (especially as it relates to hermeneutics), each of Franklin's final three 
chapters conclude in their own way the argumentation of the book. For White- 
head "religion" has more to do with the "patterns of coordinated values" than 
with the relation and response of human beings to God. The whole of White- 
head's metaphysics discussed through the book mold his view of religion. In a 
way akin to Schleiermacher, God is the "whence" or source of religious expe- 
rience, hence the datum to be studied. God is introduced by Whitehead to help 
understand this experience as the concrescing human being responds to the 
"patterns of coordinated values." At this point, Franklin rightly points out how 
Whitehead lacks, in his understanding of "religion," any sense of what Ru- 
dolph Otto called the "numinous" experience of the mysterium tremendum, the 
overwhelming and fearful "wholly other." This "fear of the Lord" is, in fact, 
debunked by Whitehead as "primitive" in comparison to Whitehead's own "ra- 
tional religion." In "God and Religion," Franklin discusses Whitehead's doc- 
trine of God showing how God's role in Whitehead is primarily as that which 
provides a theoretical explanation for the intuitions of religion, coordinate val- 
ues and the permanency of the universe over against the flux. Whitehead does 
not deal directly with God. Still Franklin shows that God is crucial for White- 
head's whole metaphysical understanding, his entire vision of reality. Frank- 
lin's discussion of how a union (rather than Whitehead's separation) between 
"God" and "creativity" does much to make Whitehead's understanding of God 
basically orthodox. Whitehead's implied arguments for God's existence are 


also quite significant. The last chapter of part four, "Religious Language," ad- 
vances the discussion in showing the necessity of such language as that which 
elicits religious experience into the realm of the ordinary. Religious language 
and doctrinal expressions of religion are shown to be vitally important in the 
shaping of the human experience of the world in more effective faithfulness to 
the initial subjective aim given by God to each actual entity. Franklin's closing 
discussions of how, for Whitehead, religious language works ex opere operato 
in eliciting experience and shaping experience, and how one could express the 
biblical view that God is Creator by His Word, are thought provoking and 
stimulating, laying open possibilities. 

A work of this nature and density is difficult to comprehend and assimi- 
late, let alone review. This book is no introduction to Whitehead or to process 
thought. It is a "scholar's monograph" which assumes that the reader has some 
knowledge of "Process" thought and must be assessed from that perspective. 
Franklin is to be commended for courageously taking up a critical issue in 
modern theology and vigorously working to bring an answer, using a very 
difficult and influential contemporary philosophical expression to meet the 
theological challenge. Using A. N. Whitehead's description of reality as a way 
of dealing with the problem of God-language for theology, falls within the tra- 
dition (e.g., Augustine, Aquinas, etc.) of employing a prominent philosophical 
perspective to give effective contemporary expression to the Christian faith. 
The problem, of course, has been ever one of maintenance or loss of the Gos- 
pel in the process (e.g., Gnostics, Arians, etc.). It surely appears to be Frank- 
lin's desire to follow one such as Augustine in this adventure. Additionally, 
reading through this book is a real education in Whitehead's process philoso- 
phy. Even with some background understanding in process theology, the read- 
ing of this work was arduous, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately fruitful. 
Franklin constructively delves into Whitehead's dense and abstract perspec- 
tives on reality in order to tap such for evangelical expression and insight in 
opposition to that of John Cobb, Schubert Ogden or Lewis Ford. 

While it must not be understood as a criticism, given the purpose and pro- 
spective audience of this book, still it is very difficult reading through the first 
major section of this work (Franklin warns the reader of this in the "Preface"). 
Fortunately, Franklin is unlike Whitehead in being willing to give illustrations. 
For example, his diagrams are essential to following his discussion. While it is 
probably necessary to his final purposes and goals, the lengthy and painstaking 
discussion required to finally reach the insights of part four ("Religion") make 
the effort questionable. Finally, the possibilities which Franklin opens for the 
evangelical use of Whiteheadian thought are, at some points, given in overly 
brief form. After all that work to get there, more results were expected. Maybe 
a volume doing just that is what Franklin has in mind. Those who find Frank- 
lin's careful discerning "synthesis" of certain Whiteheadian insights with 
Christian orthodoxy and the results he does give to be questionable, may be 
hasty. Franklin should bring this thesis of his out into fuller and more explicit 
theological expression which could be assessed. 

John D. Morrison 
Liberty University 


Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical, & Evangelical, vol. 1, by James Leo 
Garrett, Jr. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990. 
Pp. xii + 658. 

After many years of successfully communicating Christian theology to his 
classes, James Leo Garrett, Jr., has written a systematic theology which is an 
outstanding representation of the discipline. Systematic theology is ill-defined 
in the minds of many, but this book not only acquaints the reader with what 
systematic theology is, but also demonstrates how it is donel 

Building upon the disciplines of exegesis, Biblical theology and historical 
theology, systematic theology is the capstone of an intensive labor to under- 
stand and communicate God's truth. Garrett describes his method: "... I have 
made very effort to locate, interpret, and correlate all the pertinent Old and 
New Testament texts or passages and the more significant statements from the 
patristic period to the modern age before undertaking any formulation of my 
own" (p. ix). The author has a command of the Biblical and historical sources 
which he has utilized in every area of study in this first of two volumes. The 
appellation "Biblical, Historical, & Theological" is accurate and presents the 
arrangement of the argument for each doctrine covered. Garrett begins with a 
statement of the issue or issues, presents the pertinent Old and New Testament 
data and then joins to that material the interpretations that have come forth in 
the history of the church before drawing his conclusion. 

The subjects for consideration in this volume are prolegomena, revelation, 
the Bible, the doctrine of God, creation and providence, humankind, sin and the 
person of Jesus Christ. The breadth of presentation on each of these topics is 
impressive. Though not all of the conclusions of the writer are acceptable, the 
data, interpretations and conclusions offered are stimulative and challenging. 

The discussions of revelation, inspiration and inerrancy, recently areas of 
great controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention of which Garrett is a rep- 
resentative, are thorough, fair and stimulating. Garrett, like Millard Erickson be- 
fore him, opts for a both/and approach to the question of whether revelation is 
propositional or relational. The contribution on inspiration is an example of the 
author's intent of bringing together Biblical and historical data in arriving at a 
conclusion. Though that conclusion will not be acceptable to all, it is important 
to go through the process with the author before arriving at a final judgment. 

The validity of the claim that the Bible is the Word of God is subjected to 
scrutiny. This common assumption is upheld by Garrett by only after recogniz- 
ing the true weight of evidence for the assertion. 

The doctrine of the Trinity is unique to Scripture and is developed very 
capably. Biblical and historical contributions are presented in such a fashion as 
to provide the reader what is necessary to understand well the issues and arrive 
at the truth. 

Garrett prefers the progressive creationist view in interpreting the Genesis 
1-2 account but is cautious in his discussion of both the creation in general 
and humans in particular. Again, it is not necessary to agree with all of the 
conclusions to benefit from the presentation. 

The discussion concerning humankind is valuable in its adherence to the 
Biblical use of terms that have resulted in the dividing of persons into various 
components: body, soul and/or spirit. Garrett affirms that the Biblical emphasis 


is on the unity of the human person, not parts, and his word studies bring to- 
gether in succinct fashion the support for this contention. Also appreciated in 
this regard is the handling of the issue of total depravity which briefly, but 
clearly, identifies what it means and what it does not mean. 

Of special interest is the study of the person of Christ. While traditionally 
evangelicals have commenced Christology with the "from above" emphasis, 
beginning with His deity and moving to His incarnation, Garrett begins with 
His humanity and works toward His deity contending that one can follow this 
method and "incorporate all the transcendent aspects of the person of Christ" 
resulting "in a full-orbed, balanced doctrine" (p. 530). His reasons for follow- 
ing this approach justify the arrangement and he does succeed in his attempt. 

This book is written in outline style and reflects the use of the material in the 
classroom. That form does not detract but benefits the investor who will use this 
work often as a reference in future study. Appreciation of this volume is joined 
with an anticipation of the completion of Garrett's valuable gift to the church. 

Ronald T. Clutter 
Grace Theological Seminary 

Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Investigation, by J. P. 
Moreland. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989. Pp. 263. 

J. P. Moreland has in recent years shown himself to be one of the leading 
young Christian philosophers and active apologists for the faith. In this text he 
has focused on the area of concern which many have asserted is his real 
strength, the philosophy of science and the relationship between science and 
the Christian faith. A preliminary example of this expertise was his chapter, 
"Science and Christianity," in his erudite and well received book on apologet- 
ics, Scaling the Secular City. In observing the multi-faceted interrelationship 
between the sciences and Christianity, Moreland has also brought forth a 
unique contribution to contemporary evangelical thought that will hopefully 
stir much further thinking and research by Christians. The only comparable 
works are Bernard Ramm's A Christian View of Science and Scripture (1954) 
and Philosophy of Science by Del Ratysch (1986). Yet given Moreland's direc- 
tions and purposes here is a true singularity about this book. Clearly, given the 
current "scientistic" perceptions of science as the only truly rational realm, this 
is also a timely work that will clear away some of the current fogginess of 
these issues. Ignorance and an attitude of ostrich-like unconcern about science 
too often characterize the anti-intellectualistic evangelical community which is 
often content with its subjective piety in the midst of a materialistic, scientistic 
culture. No wonder Christianity seems ineffectual in this era. This issue, sci- 
ence and Christianity, must have an impact for the (re-)education of Christians 
in the context of this society. 

This work may be properly categorized as "philosophy of science." A cen- 
tral question at the heart of the book for which many scientists have no full an- 
swer, is "what is science?" This is a question which many would want to 
approach by assuming the answer is already known. In actuality this is a ques- 
tion which few could adequately define. Moreland helps the reader try to see that 
this is far from a cut-and-dried issue. The complexities that surround the 


question of the identity of science are multitudinous. Along with the question of 
science's identity, there is the difficulty of setting down a final line of demarca- 
tion between science and non-science. Moreland brings clarity to current debate 
and with it such points of concern as whether theology or philosophy can be un- 
derstood as "scientific" given the oft heard assertion that the scientific method 
is a myth. How does all of this fit into current attitudes toward "non-scientific" 
subjects, i.e., the perspective of "scientism" that only science (reckoned usually 
as the "physical" sciences) is truly rational? What then is the relationship of sci- 
ence to other disciplines (especially theology and philosophy) and to the Chris- 
tian faith in light of this epistemic bias? Is that a real picture of what is 
scientific? These and other crucial issues that are currently under debate at many 
levels are effectively handled and cogently dealt with as Moreland works to un- 
ravel and separate the true from the false. On p. 12 the larger purposes for this 
text are stated: "The purpose of this book is to assist and encourage Christians 
to think more clearly about the relationship between science and theology." 

In working through Moreland's unfolding the nature of science and the 
role of science within the interactive and interconnective web of human life 
and thought, three issues seemed to arise repeatedly in various contexts. The 
reference to the nature, method and limits of science has already been dis- 
cussed. A second critical issue is the ongoing realism-antirealism debate 
among current scientists and philosophers of science. The differences lie in 
whether science gives us an increasingly truer picture of the world as it is (re- 
alism) of if the theories of science are really only convenient and helpful 
fictions that reflect not the world but operations in the world (antirealism). A 
third issue for Moreland is the role of theology and the Christian faith to the 
various sciences, especially the physical sciences. Within this, of course, is the 
question as to the scientific status of "Creation Science." Herein the epistemic 
differentiation between the two (or more) sides and the need for Christians to 
effect real integration of the subjects are clear concerns for the author. 

In assessing the strong points of Christianity and the Nature of Science a 
number of items stand out. First, this is an exceedingly timely book. In a time of 
rampant "secularism," "materialism" and (on the other hand) "occultism" (New 
Age), Christians are in desperate need of a way of seeing, knowing and respond- 
ing to false notions and stylized reductionism on both fronts. The text reflects his 
continued growth and interaction (Moreland speaks of becoming a "chastened 
realist"). Further, he asks the crucial questions, cutting through all the well known 
distractions, and in the heat of controversy shows a superb ability in analysis and 
critique of the various views. He is also open and humble, immensely teachable, 
willing to show not only points of growth in his own thought but shortcomings in 
his own position "(cf. the question of realism and the need for further work in 
creationism). Moreland gives effective examples and diagrams, illustrating and 
clarifying the sometimes weighty points. He also has an effective way of commu- 
nicating and a lively style that ensures movement from point to point. 

Possibly one more versed in current issues might fault this or that expla- 
nation or characterization, but Moreland is scrupulously fair with all legitimate 
points. This edition, while having an excellent bibliography, unfortunately 
lacks an index of subjects. Subsequent editions will apparently include one. 

Finally, by way Of exhortation, this book is must reading. Many reviewers 
arrive at that conclusion automatically but his work is an exception. Christians 


in all walks of life must become oriented to the issues found in Moreland's 
book. It would make an excellent text for philosophy, apologetics, philosophy 
of science or science courses within a Christian setting. Educated Christians 
could well use this text as the basis for group study and discussion in local 
churches. In an age of scientism when true and false perspectives are often in- 
distinguishable behind the covering veil of "scientific rationality," it is danger- 
ous to hide from the issues. 

John Morrison 
Liberty University 

Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology, by Thomas V. 
Morris. Contours of Christian Philosophy series, C. Stephen Evans, ed. Down- 
ers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991. Pp. 192. Paper. 

Thomas Morris has added a significant volume to the Contours of Chris- 
tian Philosophy series. As with previous volumes in the series, Our Idea of 
God tackles a variety of problems that have long been debated by theologians 
and philosophers. Morris analyzes alternate views as to their philosophical co- 
gency and their value in the construction of a Christian world view. 

Our Idea of God is not a philosophical defense of the existence of God or 
the rationality of religious belief, but rather a defense of the traditional Chris- 
tian concept of God. The book is of current interest in view of the rise of non- 
Christian notions of God. What is God like? Can we articulate a conception of 
God that is both biblically faithful and philosophically plausible? 

Morris begins by evaluating the arguments concerning whether rational 
discussion of God is possible. He refutes the arguments of theological pessi- 
mism based on the limitations of human language and concepts, contending 
that human language and thought are flexible enough to extend far beyond or- 
dinary employment. He links this idea with the biblical doctrine of creation in 
which God created humans for the purpose of communion to conclude that ra- 
tional discussion about God is possible. Morris admits that his theological op- 
timism presupposes prior knowledge of God, but argues that basic knowledge 
of any kind cannot be demonstrated with non-circular arguments. 

Morris then discusses the method for determining a feasible concept of 
God. After dismissing universal revelational theology, he settles on two meth- 
ods which undergird the argumentation in the rest of the book: creation theol- 
ogy and perfect being theology. The basic core of perfect being theology is 
Anselm's idea that God is the greatest possible being. This thought provides 
the governing focus for additional theistic concept building involving the prop- 
erties of God. The methodology then evaluates which properties are to be con- 
sidered among the "great-making" properties, the nature of those properties, 
and the philosophical and theological problems involved. 

Succeeding chapters discuss such topics as God's goodness, power, 
knowledge, eternality, creation, incarnation, and the Trinity. Morris contends 
that God is necessarily good, that he must have perfect power, and that his 
knowledge must be complete. He arrives at these conclusions primarily from 
the inference of perfect being theology, rather than from independent argu- 
ments. Morris discusses such problems as whether God is praiseworthy or 


morally good if he were not free to do evil; whether God could create a stone 
he could not lift; and whether God's foreknowledge destroys free will. Al- 
though the latter issue is left unsettled, it is especially illuminating and tran- 
scends the discussions found in most theological works. 

Some issues could not be philosophically resolved, yet the alternative posi- 
tions remain biblically faithful. For example, Morris considers both possibilities 
that God is atemporally eternal (outside of time) and that he is temporally ever- 
lasting (within time) to be biblically feasible. He also finds Richard Swinburne's 
social theory of the Trinity to be a plausible alternative to singularity theories. 

The discussions are designed for non-specialists. The style is lucid and 
concise, with technical terms defined whenever used. Although intended pri- 
marily for an introductory textbook in Philosophical Theology, it could also be 
used as a supplemental text in theology courses, especially those focusing on 
Christian theism. The book will aptly serve to broaden the theological aware- 
ness and general scholarship of the evangelical community. 

Richard A. Young 
Chattanooga, TN 

The Political Meaning of Christianity: The Prophetic Stance, An Interpretation, 
by Glenn Tinder. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. Pp. 257. Paper. 

Glenn Tinder offers the reader his personal statement, an interpretation of 
the political meaning of Christianity. His viewpoint is "broadly that of the Ref- 
ormation," and his "attitudes are more Lutheran than Calvinist" (p. 2). His 
interpretation is not markedly denominational, though he believes it is broadly 

Tinder emphasizes that his conclusions are an interpretation intended to 
encourage inquiry. He is not seeking to create new dogma, although he ac- 
knowledges vast confusion among the peoples of the world, and he hopes that 
his statement will in some way lessen the confusion. Tinder believes that con- 
fusion has increased in part because Christians and unbelievers alike have for- 
gotten some of the profound insights of Christianity. 

The author believes that Christianity contains "credible good sense con- 
cerning life" from which all people can benefit (p. 5). His main thesis is that 
Christianity, via the prophetic stance it provides, offers a means of civility in a 
highly chaotic, demoralized, uncivil age. 

The prophetic stance is the central idea of this text. Tinder believes that 
"the primary political requirement of Christianity is not a certain kind of society 
or a particular program of action but rather an attitude, a way of facing society 
and of undertaking programs of action. Christianity implies skepticism concern- 
ing political ideals and plans. For Christianity to be wedded indissolubly to any 
of them ... is idolatrous and thus subversive of Christian faith" (p. 8). 

The author affirms a Christianity that is neither conservative nor liberal, 
capitalistic nor socialistic. Rather, the prophetic stance is an individual (not 
group) attitude based upon values that hold all human systems in judgment. 

Perhaps Tinder's greatest contribution is his clear, theologically sound 
enunciation that human beings are depraved and selfish yet infinitely valuable, 
that deeply discouraging sin exists yet humanity is not without hope. In this 


the author promotes an understanding of both the created-but-fallen order and 
of the redemption story of the life and work of Christ. 

Tinder observes that the modern mind's greatest error is in thinking that 
Christ, the God-man, can be ignored. He rightly notes that to forget God is to 
eliminate human dignity, Christian morality, and political meaning. Twentieth 
century modern man has attempted to displace God with the false gods of sci- 
ence, technology, humanism, and working class, nationalism, etc. But ultimately 
nothing satisfies, and as Dostoevsky noted, "everything is permitted" (p. 50). 

Tinder argues that the individual is exalted in dignity by God's creation 
through agape. Part of agape for humanity is human destiny. Human beings 
are eschatological and ideological creatures. History has meaning because it 
leads beyond history to eternity. A Christian understanding of eschatology pre- 
vents historical idolatry, including those involving political ideologies and ex- 
treme nationalism. 

Christians, the author contends, must always be skeptical of actual states 
while supporting the state in principle. Tinder curiously views the state, while 
necessary, as essentially evil, a result of sin. He does not seem to think that the 
state has any positive role to play. If any criticism may be offered on this 
count, it would be that Tinder understates Christians' mission to transform so- 
ciety and the state. He seems content with a Lutheran dichotomy that stops 
short of pressing Christian morality upon a non-Christian world. 

The author believes that the logic of Christianity provides Christians with 
ideals, which in turn enable Christians to examine the world with a more ob- 
jective lens. Christianity, Tinder observes, supports liberty, equality, and com- 
munity and is pacific and universalistic. He is careful to note that the Scripture 
does not permit the Christian to absolutize any of these ideals. 

Christianity works toward liberty, even though humanity in its sinfulness 
will use liberty to promote secularity. While liberty has become a vehicle for 
individualistic excesses, Tinder still believes it is compatible with another 
Christian ideal, community. Christians inhabit fundamentally different orders, 
society (necessary association) and community (authentic unity), and must 
learn to live in this tension. In this world, Tinder observes, real community 
does not exist, but better societies move beyond mere physical proximity to the 
promotion of the spiritual proximity that characterizes community. 

Tinder may be faulted for his questioning of the literal meaning of some 
passages of Scripture, for example Adam's story in Genesis and the "myth" of 
the Tower of Babel. At one point, he wishes for Christians to be delivered 
from the "captivity to propositional forms" (p. 130). He says that Christians do 
not possess truth, for human beings are fallible and because God does not pro- 
vide truth that can be translated into words. Christians' faith is not in words or 
stories, or doctrines, though these forms are necessary, but in Jesus. 

Tinder's work is erudite, sometimes difficult to read, sweeping in scope, 
and generally balanced. His intellectual humility is refreshing. While the text 
falls short of book jacket claims like "a modern classic of political theory," it 
is a worthwhile and challenging work. This book will be especially helpful to 
the theoreticians among the readership. 

Rex M. Rogers 
The King's College (Briarcliff Manor, NY) 


Puritan Christianity in America, by Allen Carden. Grand Rapids: Baker Book 
House, 1990. 

Another book on Puritanism! How does this one differ from the dozens of 
others that have found their way to publication in the last 20 to 30 years? The 
author presents the reader with two separate theses: the first deals with the 
theological beliefs of the Puritans culled from the sermons and writings of Pu- 
ritan clergy and political leaders; the second portion of the book is a synthesis 
of the findings of the most prominent Puritan historians such as Bercovitch, 
Breen, Bremer, Demos, Foster, Hall, Lockridge, Middlekauf, Morgan, Rutman, 
and Ryken. 

Carden contends that Puritan spiritual views were neglected or misunder- 
stood by Perry Miller, the guru of Puritan scholars. Carden says, "Miller un- 
deremphasized the Bible as the principle source of Puritan thought." It is 
somewhat typical within academia for a work of superb erudition such as Perry 
Miller's work on Puritanism to undergo reexamination and scrutiny by a group 
of younger scholars who set out to test particular components of the overall 
thesis. The author falls in this category. The book is apparently an extension of 
the research completed for the dissertation at the University of California at Ir- 
vine in 1977 entitled, "The Ministry and the Word: The Clergy, the Bible, and 
Biblical Themes in Five Massachusetts Towns, 1630-1700." 

The opening chapter provides a terse overview of the historical origins of 
Puritanism. Carden credits English Puritanism with "clear, biblical, evangeli- 
cal preaching and genuine piety" during Queen Elizabeth's reign; however, he 
fails to substantiate these claims. To do so would no doubt divert the reader 
from the primary focus of establishing the biblicism of the Puritans in New En- 
gland in the seventeenth century. The case for biblicism would be strengthened 
by providing answers to nagging questions. If spiritual matters held primacy, 
why did the Puritans refuse to separate from the Church of England? Why does 
John Winthrop attribute the Puritan exodus to deteriorating social conditions if 
spiritual issues were foremost? 

The book amasses abundant testimony regarding the theological beliefs of 
the Puritans, all meticulously documented from the sermon literature of the pe- 
riod. Here the author performs a remarkable service by ascertaining the Puritan 
theology from the extensive literature and categorizing it according to conven- 
tional topics. It is surprising, however, to note the scarcity of information on 
certain subjects. There is little reference to the traditional pillars of Calvin- 
ism — predestination and election. Carden maintains that, "References to the 
sovereign selection by God for some of salvation (election) and some for dam- 
nation (reprobation) are scarce in seventeenth-century sermons." (p. 84) 

Interspersed throughout the discussion of Puritan theology are the mis- 
taken conclusions of Perry Miller. Miller "misconceived" the Puritan view that 
original sin was inherent in man, ignored or underestimated the Puritan com- 
mitment to Christ, and "made little distinction in the triune roles of the Puri- 
tan's God." Carden, however, accepts Miller's understanding of the covenant of 
grace, but rejects the view that it rested on "the competence of human reason." 

The latter half of the book reads like an annotated bibliography on the 
various social views of the Puritans. Those familiar with the recent historical 


work on the Puritans will not find anything new. Some of the discredited myths 
about Puritans are highlighted such as their alleged preference for Old Testa- 
ment texts, their purported early marriages, and their reputation as sexual 
prudes. The inclusion of this synthesis on recent Puritan scholarship consti- 
tutes a second thesis that does not necessarily harmonize with the author's pur- 
pose of proving the theological unity and biblicism of the seventeenth-century 
New England community. However, the two sections of the book provide a 
vivid contrast between the ideal and the real, between beliefs and the actual 
practice within the Puritan community. 

Dwayne Cole 
Grand Rapids Baptist College 

The Variety of American Evangelicalism, edited by Donald W. Dayton and 
Robert K. Johnston. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991. Pp. viii + 

Among the books currently in circulation focusing upon the evangelical 
movement, this work is the most informative. Its contribution begins with an 
introduction in which the difficulty encountered in choosing the title of the 
book confronts one with the problem of writing on evangelicalism. Is there one 
evangelicalism of which there are different varieties or are there different evan- 
gelicalismsl What characteristic or group of characteristics clearly define(s) 
the movement? The editors are not even agreed on the value of the use of the 
term evangelical. Dayton would place a moratorium on the use of the word 
which he does not consider sufficiently descriptive while Johnston argues for 
the value of the term in identifying a family. 

Arising out of debate in the Evangelical Theology Group of the American 
Academy of Religion, the essays included in this book are written from a vari- 
ety of perspectives identified, to a greater or lesser extent, with American evan- 
gelicalism. The majority of the fourteen essayists are participants in the 
movements on which they write. In this collection are some presentations that 
prove to be more beneficial than others but each makes a valuable contribution 
to the whole. Articles address evangelicalism in relation to premillennialism, 
fundamentalism, Pentecostals, Adventists, the holiness movement, restoration- 
ism, blacks, Baptists, pietism, Mennonites, Reformed and Lutherans. Some of 
these perspectives are overlooked in most works on the subject and it is in the 
fullness of its treatment that this book makes jits greatest contribution. Evangel- 
icals will be prompted to see the vastness of their identity and look beyond their 
own traditions. The contributions on Adventism, restorationists, pietists and 
Lutherans are especially helpful in this regard. Persons of Reformed persuasion 
can benefit greatly by the discussions of pentecostal and holiness traditions and 
those latter two can profit from the discussion of the "Self-Consciously 
Reformed." Norman Kraus, from his Mennonite perspective, critiques and chal- 
lenges evangelicals. 

Milton G. Sernett writes a succinct and valuable presentation on black re- 
ligion which began as an offspring of early American white evangelicalism. 
The problem of the treatment of blacks by white evangelicals is disturbingly 


and frankly presented. He also poses the black challenge for white evangelicals 
today: "Evangelical theology and evangelical ethics must meet on the common 
ground of equality and justice if the evangelical identity is to bridge racially 
discrete Christian communions" (p. 145). 

George M. Marsden contributes the essay on fundamentalism declaring 
that a critical problem in defining that movement is the fact that it is "con- 
stantly changing" (p. 23). He refers to subdivisions of the movement which 
have been the product of this change, basically due to schism. Identifying a 
type of fundamentalism with dispensationalism, Marsden does, however, 
present problems for the thesis of Ernest Sandeen that has equated the two 
movements. Especially interesting in the unfolding of his discussion of broader 
fundamentalism is the kinship Marsden witnesses between neo-evangelicals 
and fundamentalists whose battles "have been so fierce precisely because they 
are particularly close relatives within an extended family" (p. 33). 

Timothy Weber contributes a helpful chapter on the development of 
American premillennialism and its place in evangelicalism. In the process, 
Weber finds himself caught in the dilemma of the question of whether evangel- 
icalism or evangelicalisms. In this article it becomes apparent that little if any 
editing was done on these papers. Footnote number 51 refers to a presentation 
by Craig Blaising as unpublished, which it was at the time of the deliverance 
of Weber's paper at the AAR meeting, but was published in Bibliotheca Sacra 
in two installments in 1988. 

Typographical errors in other articles demonstrate this same lack of edit- 
ing. On page 108 church is rendered three times as chruch, twice in the same 
sentence, and evangelical is misspelled. Other such errors are a distraction to 
the reader. 

The editors conclude the book with arguments pertaining to evangelical- 
ism as a term to be dismissed or retained, providing an appropriate capstone to 
an excellent work which leaves the reader thinking about and appreciative of 
the breadth of evangelicalism, evangelicalisms or whatever else one would call 
them (or it). 

Ronald T. Clutter 
Grace Theological Seminary 

The Mission of the Church in the World: A Biblical Theology, by Roger E. 
Hedlund. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991. Pp. 300. Paper. 

Dr. Roger E. Hedlund is coordinator and lecturer at the McGavran Institute 
in Madras, India. Because of his hands-on missionary experience in an Eastern 
context, he brings a stimulating viewpoint of the biblical text to western read- 
ers. In his Preface to the Asian Edition (1985), Hedlund states his desire to fill 
a gap in missiological literature in India by providing a "thorough exegetical 
study of the missionary theology of the Bible" (p. 14). That contribution has 
now come to the Western world as God's eternal redemptive purpose is care- 
fully traced throughout both Testaments — from the garden to Paradise. 

The Old Testament is given its rightful place as it unfolds God's redemp- 
tive purposes. The book is evenly divided between the Testaments, giving Old 
Testament revelation a missiological emphasis that is often neglected. Hedlund 


probes each of the literary divisions of the Old Testament and finds God's mis- 
sion. For example, he states, "Mission is from God. It is God who works in 
and through Israel for the salvation of the nations. Their concern, which runs 
through Scripture, derives from God" (p. 73). The author carefully selects 
passages in the various genres of Old Testament literature to investigate their 
missionary significance. The reader is rewarded with many insights into re- 
demptive history as the record of the Old Testament unfolds. 

The intertestamental period was a time of Jewish missionary activity. The 
Jewish population greatly increased, and a new category of people, the "God- 
fearers," came into being. In this way the "Jewish mission prepared the way 
for the Christian mission" (p. 147). Hedlund's insights here are helpful. 

The second half of the book deals with the fulfillment of Old Testament 
redemptive expectations. In the words of the author, "... in the New Testa- 
ment the gospel becomes universal. There is no difference between Jew and 
non-Jew (Rom. 2:11, 3:9; Gal. 3:28). The largely implicit Old Testament con- 
cept finds fulfillment in the New" (p. 152). 

The author stands for the exclusiveness of Christ as over against the 
claims of non-Christian religions such as Hinduism (pp. 166-69). In the light 
of the Eastern context in which the book was written, this "radical exclusive- 
ness" of biblical teaching is even more significant. 

Hedlund discusses the concepts of the kingdom of God and the Church and 
their distinctions. The Great Commission, the significance of Pentecost, the 
founding of the church and the role of culture are all related to God's mission. 

The role of the apostles, especially Paul's, comes in for careful analysis. 
Chapter 23, "Theologian, Strategist, and Activist," concerning Paul, is a 
significant contribution to the book. 

The author's background in Eastern religious thought gives dimension and 
clarity as he deals with cultural encounters (Chapter 24). He discusses in some 
detail the equipment and gifts the Lord has provided for the Church to carry 
out its world mission (Chapter 25). The book closes with a discussion of the 
missiological contribution of the general Epistles and the missionary perspec- 
tive of the Book of Revelation. 

An extensive bibliography, including a number of sources from India, 
adds a valuable dimension to the text. Indexes of Scripture, authors, and sub- 
jects are helpful. 

Then reader will no doubt find areas of disagreement, but Dr. Hedlund is 
to be commended for this serious study of God's mission from the garden lost 
to Paradise restored. 

Paul A. Beals 
Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary 

The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelical- 
ism, by Harry S. Stout. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 
1991. Pp. 301. Paper. 

This unconventional biography of a great eighteenth century evangelist is 
bound to stir controversy, for it portrays Whitefield as a fundamentally egotistical 


person who sought fame through theatrical preaching of the Gospel. Harry S. 
Stout, a graduate of Calvin College and now professor of American religious his- 
tory at Yale University, has compiled an impressive amount of information to 
support his view, and nothing in his argument appears to be inherently impossi- 
ble. Whitefield might have been a sincere preacher of God's Word who saw no 
conflict between that calling and the pursuit of personal reputation. Stout leads 
readers through his subject's life episode-by-episode and draws them toward 
acceptance of his interpretation. Because of the author's skill in writing and 
argumentation, many people will accept his conclusions readily. There are, nev- 
ertheless, substantial reasons to question it. 

Although Whitefield, in his youth, loved the theater and showed consider- 
able talent as an actor, it is only an assumption that he later made the pulpit his 
stage and relied upon his thespian abilities to convert people to Christ. Stout 
asserts, "before Whitefield, everybody knew the difference between preaching 
and acting. With Whitefield's preaching it was no longer clear what was church 
and what was theater" (p. xix). This makes it appear that the evangelist was 
chiefly a talented manipulator of emotions for whom technique took prece- 
dence over substance in preaching. As he appears in this biography, White- 
field, the medium, was far more important than Christ, the message. 

Stout writes about "the conflicting impulses that raged in the young evan- 
gelist, pitting a deep-set piety against a determined ambition to be 'somebody' 
in the cause of Christ" (p. 2). This is an attempt at mind-reading. How could 
this author or anyone else know what went on in Whitefield's brain? It is evi- 
dent that Professor Stout has tried to psychoanalyze his subject, as when he re- 
fers to Whitefield's "inferiority-based tension" (p. 4), and the remark about his 
being "a person uneasy with his own masculinity" (p. 7). Is this a faint sugges- 
tion that Whitefield was a latent homosexual? 

Throughout this book readers will encounter uncomplimentary accounts 
of George Whitefield's preaching, his methods, and his personal life. Some of 
the criticisms are appropriate, for the evangelist had his faults. According to 
Stout, Whitefield believed in extra-biblical revelation through dreams, and he 
depicted the New Birth in terms of feelings with little regard for doctrine. So 
long as large crowds attended his meetings, the preacher never doubted the va- 
lidity of his methods. He endorsed female preachers warmly but was coldly in- 
different toward his own wife. 

Even though there is no overt hostility toward Whitefield in this book, 
those who read it uncritically will probably develop a strong disdain for him. 
Stout is careful to attest that his subject was deeply devout and tireless in his 
ministry, rigorously honest in financial matters, and charitable toward the 
needy, especially the slaves in America. His motive was, however, this author 
wants us to believe, at least partly the desire for fame. 

The greatest flaw in this book is the complete absence of documentation, 
although the author has done extensive research. Since this is a new and dis- 
putable interpretation of Whitefield, thorough verification from sources is nec- 
essary. Without it this presentation is unconvincing. 

James Edward McGoldrick 
Cedarville College 


So You're Looking for a New Preacher: A Guide for Pulpit Nominating Com- 
mittees, by Elizabeth Achtemeier. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 62. Paper. 

Elizabeth Achtemeier, adjunct professor of Bible and homiletics at Union 
Theological Seminary, wants to make sure no one misses her purpose for writ- 
ing this book. She states it clearly in her first sentence: "This little book is in- 
tended to help pulpit nominating committees select good preachers to call to 
their pulpits" (her emphasis). From the beginning Achtemeier makes her major 
conviction clear: while a minister must fulfill many responsibilities, "nothing 
[a church's] minister does will be more important than preaching" (p. 4). With 
this settled, the author seeks to provide some help for those who are responsi- 
ble to find the next preacher for their church's vacant pulpit. 

The book's first section, only 7 pages, tells how to organizer a pulpit nom- 
inating committee. Achtemeier recognizes that denominations and churches 
differ in the procedure, but the generic counsel she provides about personnel 
and procedures helps. Her list of thirteen steps in the search process will pro- 
vide direction for many, particularly those involved in a pastoral search for the 
first time. The suggestion "to acknowledge by letter all dossiers and tapes that 
you receive. . . . [and to] let a candidate know when he or she is no longer un- 
der consideration" (p. 9) as a matter of common courtesy is especially appreci- 
ated. This gets overlooked far too frequently. 

The remainder of the book tells the reader how to find a good preacher. 
The chapter's subdivisions accurately indicate what's included: e.g., Pitfalls 
and Perils, What is Good Preaching?, You are Calling Your Resident Theolo- 
gian, Try to Forget the Stereotypes, Do Not Be Too Hasty or Easily Satisfied. 
Achtemeier advocates selecting a candidate who is both orthodox in doctrine 
and active in devotional practice and she provides several objective questions 
which the committee might ask to gain necessary information in these areas. 
She sets forth demanding Biblical standards, worthy of the pastoral position. 
Her experience in homiletics enables her to present objective evaluation guides 
for good preaching. These should aid a serious pulpit committee and would 
even help preachers who dare to examine the quality of their efforts. 

It is not surprising that Achemeier argues for consideration of possible can- 
didates without gender consideration. In support she cites references of several 
Scripture texts for those who "are unaware that women served as leaders and 
preachers for the early church." Here she affirms more than the texts do and some 
might experience some frustration at that point. Achtemeier's position on candi- 
dates who have been divorced will be equally troublesome for some. She suggests 
that divorce "should not be an automatic reason for disqualifying a candidate" 
(emphasis hers) and goes on to list "some legitimate reasons for divorce . . . such 
as chronic alcoholism, abuse, persistent infidelity, and mental illness." 

Including some bibliographic help, especially in the area of church self- 
assessment, would strengthen the work. Achtemeier wisely advocates that the 
pulpit committee know the "congregation's needs and character" before the 
search. She affirms "some churches conduct self-studies . . . and such self- 
studies are helpful." She does not, however, provide a committee with any 
direction toward resources which might aid them in such a study. Most com- 
mittees need such help. 


The need for this book is real. Many pastors have given their church lead- 
ers no instruction concerning how to conduct a search process. Pulpit commit- 
tees frequently flounder around unproductively for weeks before they finally 
understand how to manage the task before them. Achtemeier's book provides 
much help for pulpit nominating committees. It would also profit seminary stu- 
dents seeking their first pastorate and those already in vocational ministry but 
seeking a new place of service. 

David F. Colman 
Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary 

The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge: A Christian Perspective, by John 
Ankerberg and John Weldon. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990. Pp. 333. Paper. 

This highly readable, thoroughly interesting book presents a penetrating 
analysis and critique of Freemasonry which its authors contend is an anti- 
Christian religion. John Ankerberg and John Weldon are competent researchers 
and writers who here present compelling arguments and a wealth of evidence to 
support their contention. 

Perhaps the greatest strength of this study is the manner. in which they have 
allowed Masons to speak for themselves on all points of controversy between 
the lodges and biblical Christianity. Ankerberg and Weldon consulted Masonic 
leaders across America and Europe in order to obtain their recommendations 
concerning what to read about Masonry. As a consequence, quotations from 
primary sources abound throughout this book. The highly influential Masonic 
authors Albert Mackey, Manly P. Hall, and Joseph Fort Newton appear to be 
the most important sources that Ankerberg and Weldon have employed. 

To show how influential Masonry has been, these authors relate that four- 
teen American presidents and fourteen vice-presidents have been lodge mem- 
bers, as have been justices of the Supreme Court and numerous members of 
Congress. This reviewer was surprised to learn that, despite their evangelical 
professions of faith, Senators Mark Hatfield and Jesse Helms are Masons. 

It is evident that Ankerberg and Weldon intend this book chiefly for 
Christians who maintain membership in Masonic organizations because they 
are ignorant of their anti-Christian teachings and practices. The Secret Teach- 
ings of the Masonic Lodge is also an eloquent, persuasive warning to non- 
Masons who might be inclined to join. 

This important book shows clearly that Masonry teaches the Fatherhood 
of God and the Brotherhood of Man and that it proclaims salvation by works. 
It denigrates Jesus Christ to the role of profound religious teacher while deny- 
ing his deity, and it affirms the basic goodness rather than sinfulness of human 
nature. In fact, this study lists a host of anti-biblical doctrines and practices 
that typify various Masonic rituals. Directly or indirectly, Masonry conflicts 
with almost every cardinal belief of orthodox Christianity. 

Ankerberg and Weldon have made their case well. Masonry is, indeed, a 
non-Christian religion despite all of its disclaimers to be a religion at all. 

James Edward McGoldrick 
Cedarville College 


Project Earth: Preserving the World God Created, by William B. Badke. Port- 
land: Multnomah Press, 1991. Pp. 166. Paper. 

In Project Earth William Badke argues that Christians are obligated to 
take care of the environment. This recent addition to Multnomah's Critical 
Concern series is written on a popular level and is designed to motivate the 
evangelical community to fulfill its environmental duty. It is on the order of 
Granberg-Michaelson's Ecology and Life, with personal antidotes starting each 

Badke builds his argument for environmental involvement around five 
witnesses of creation. The first two are bright witnesses: creation bears witness 
to the glory of the Creator and to the nurturing power of God. It is the task of 
the believer to enhance these two witnesses of creation. The Christian duty is 
linked with imaging God, which is understood functionally (ruling as God's 
representative) rather than substantially. As man images God, as will be ruling 
properly and enhancing the bright witnesses of creation. 

When Adam fell, God modified his nurturing of nature so that Adam 
would have to toil for his food. "God became a defiler of the earth." God at- 
tacked the earth and became an ecological enemy. Badke supports this state- 
ment with the curse of Genesis 3, the Deluge, and the covenant curse of 
Deuteronomy 28. God's attack on nature has produced two more witnesses, the 
dark witnesses of penalty and precariousness (or the uncertainty of life). The 
witnesses are evidently witnesses to men. The bright witnesses testify of God's 
glory and providence to lead men to Christ, and the dark witnesses warn of 
God's judgment and the possibility of death to drive men back to him. Only 
God has the right to damage what he made. He only does this when we refuse 
his bright witnesses. 

Badke tries to resolve the tension between God's attacking the earth and 
man's duty to protect it by saying that it is God's "self-imposed mandate to do 
what is required to bring us back to him." We should not attack the earth be- 
cause this is not our mandate. Our mandate is to preserve the bright witnesses 
to help men come to God. 

Ecological disasters and natural catastrophes are part of the dark wit- 
nesses that warn of a divine retribution against unrepentant man. This retribu- 
tion reaches a climax when God uncreates all that he made. Badke suggests 
that the ecological crisis could be God's final call for humanity to turn back to 
him. He argues that the earth will be totally destroyed and remade, not re- 
stored, as Granberg-Michaelson suggests. Badke reasons that everything 
touched by sin must die before it can be reborn, and this includes the earth. 
Only the death of the earth will purge it from its corruption and make it fit to 
remain in God's presence. 

The fifth witness is a determined effort of believers to heal the earth and 
to cease contributing to the dark witnesses. It is the witness of reclamation 
which encompasses renewing the role of imaging God, restoring broken rela- 
tions with the environment, and returning to tending the garden. It testifies that 
God is able to make all things new. 

The approach follows the theanthropocentrism of the dominant tradition 
of Western theology in which everything revolves around the divine-human re- 
lationship with nature being left on the fringes. Rather than the earth being the 


stage for the history of human redemption, as with Barth or Brunner, it is the 
mirror of human morality and faithfullness. The ecological problem is a spiri- 
tual problem, for it "merely echoes our condition before a holy and increas- 
ingly angry God." Justification for environmental involvement is found in 
subordinating it to the Great Commission. This implies that it would be im- 
proper to care for nature solely for nature's sake. Preserving the witness of cre- 
ation is done to enhance the gospel message so humans might be saved. 

Project Earth is somewhat of a maverick in that it hews its own course 
with very little interaction with the extensive literature since Lynn White's ar- 
ticle. The appendix lists 50 things we can do to become involved. Also in- 
cluded are subject and scriptural indices. 

Richard A. Young 
Chattanooga, TN 

Mysticism: An Evangelical Option? by Winfried Corduan. Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1990. Pp. 150. Paper. 

Mysticism is making itself increasingly felt as an influence within evan- 
gelicalism. Many evangelical protestants are avidly reading Catholic mystics 
like Thomas Merton and Henri J. M. Nouwen. Within Protestantism itself, 
popular books like Richard Foster's The Celebration of Discipline advance cer- 
tain mystical practices as applicable to contemporary Christian living. Notable 
ex-protestants such as Thomas Howard and Sheldon VanAuken identify the 
mystical aspects of Roman Catholicism as extremely attractive and influential 
in their own conversions. Even the "Third Wave" movement within evangeli- 
calism has a distinct mystical strain to it. 

In this regard, Winfried Corduan's Mysticism: An Evangelical Option? is 
a pertinent book for those interested in studying the subject. Corduan explores 
the nature of mystical experience and to a certain extent critiques from a New 
Testament standpoint the claims of mystics of all faiths. 

Corduan's book deals mainly with the philosophical aspects of mysticism, 
and it is here that many will find a major barrier to the book's usefulness. It 
often seems to dwell too much on the very technical aspects of mysticism and 
does not address the questions most evangelical Christians would want to ask 
about the subject. 

The first part of the book, for example, spends a great deal of time quib- 
bling over the definition of mysticism and exploring esoteric aspects of under- 
standing the term. This would be fine for a dissertation or an advanced study of 
the subject, but it is probably beyond the interest level of most evangelicals 
who would take the time to read a book on it. 

Corduan also seems to deviate from the logic of his approach by unfairly 
favoring Christian mysticism. He says of such medieval mystics as St. John of 
the Cross and Teresa of Avila, "how shocked these saints would be to find out 
that actually when they thought they experienced the love of Jesus, they merely 
experienced 'mysticism' under one particular interpretation!" (54). Is this to say 
that such bizarre and grotesque mystical experiences as those of Juliana of Nor- 
wich are valid simply because Juliana was a Christian? Or that the ecstatic vi- 
sions of Bernard are to be given credence because he was a Christian? These are 


questions that deserve a better answer than he gives. He does later say that it is 
"a basic trait of the human mind that it can undergo a mystical experience" and 
that a variety of causes might bring the mystical experience about (76-77). Still, 
he seems to retain the annoying habit of automatically granting validity to a 
Christian mystical experience: "... one could say that it [the mystical experi- 
ence] can also be part of the experience of linking up with a genuine reality, as 
a Christian might claim for God" (77). But the objective existence of God does 
not validate a mystical experience even if God is claimed to be the origin of that 
experience. Corduan's approach leaves the reader with no way of judging 
whether a mystical experience is valid under any circumstances. 

The chapter on "Mysticism in Christianity" is a bit better. There is a good 
discussion of Meister Eckhart, St. Teresa, and St. John of the Cross. This is 
off-set, however, by a too-detailed description of Eastern Orthodox mysticism. 
Also, the chapter on "Recent Writers" is, again, too esoteric to be of any gen- 
eral interest. 

The last chapter addresses New Testament mysticism, but in this chapter 
the author again falls prey to an overly technical analysis of theories on whether 
or not the New Testament condones, facilitates, or encourages mysticism. 

If this review has seemed unkind to the work it examines, it is because of 
the expectations the book's title raises. Mysticism: An Evangelical Option? 
suggests more than a technical study of the philosophical questions clustering 
around the issues of mysticism. It suggests a survey of the influence mysticism 
has had and is having upon evangelicalism in the past and at present. But such 
things are not forthcoming in the text. No mention is made, for instance, of Pu- 
ritan mystics such as Richard Baxter, who more or less set the patterns for 
Protestant mysticism. The writings of such influential twentieth-century mys- 
tics as Nouwen and Merton are passed over, as are the works of such authors 
as A. W. Tozer and Andrew Murray, whose influence upon fundamentalism 
and evangelicalism has been great, and who both bordered on mystical under- 
standing's of the believer's relationship to God. 

The book is not without its uses. If a reader wanted to delve into the 
philosophical basis of mysticism, be abreast of current theories on the subject, 
and generally approach the topic from an entirely speculative and theoretical 
angle, Mysticism: An Evangelical Option? would be a good place to start. The 
author does a good job of outlining the basic ideas of mysticism in scholarly 
and intellectual discussions. The bibliography is an excellent tool by which to 
become familiar with the literature on the philosophical aspects of mysticism. 
In the final analysis, the work is theoretical and abstract rather than practical 
and informative. 

David W. Landrum 
Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary 

The C. S. Lewis Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to His Life, Thought and 
Writings, by Colin Duriez. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990. Pp. 255. 

Many readers of C. S. Lewis have been introduced to him by means of 
only one of his many types of literature. Those introduced to his fantasy see 


him as primarily a writer of children's books. Those who began with his moral 
and theological writings see him as primarily a religious author. Yet part of the 
appeal of Lewis as a 20th century phenomenon is his contribution of works 
written in a variety of literary styles. Often, to their detriment, readers are un- 
aware of Lewis's other works of literary criticism, science fiction, poetry, ser- 
mons, etc. which fill out the whole picture of the writer. Furthermore, Lewis 
cannot be read for long without the reader being overwhelmed by literary allu- 
sions and influences from a wide spectrum of people and ideas — often un- 
known to the average reader. 

This literary gap is bridged by Colin Duriez's C. S. Lewis Handbook. This 
handbook provides an introduction to the persons in Lewis's life (from his 
Aunt Annie to friend Charles Williams), characters in Lewis's books (from 
Asian to Wormwood), summaries of his writings (The Abolition of Man to 
Voyage to Venus), and a wealth of other useful aids to an informed reading of 
Lewis. Helpful discussions of significant motifs in the thought of Lewis (such 
as idealism, romanticism, myth, and allegory) and good summaries of major 
influences on his writings (such as George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton and 
friend J. R. R. Tolkien) are easily available. 

The Handbook gives good, but selective, descriptions of Lewis's own 
ideas. For example, there is a discussion of his view of heaven, but none ex- 
plicitly of hell or purgatory. Furthermore, the book lacks specific articles on 
important literary influences on Lewis (which, sadly, are often unknown to the 
modern reader), such as Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Dante, etc. To include 
these would make the guide more useful to the Lewis audience. 

The bibliographies of books both by and about Lewis will be a real help to 
anyone who wishes to get to know the man and his writings better. The Hand- 
book is a good contribution to Lewis studies. Colin Duriez has done a real ser- 
vice to both old and new readers of C. S. Lewis. 

Michael A. Van Horn 
Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary 

Who Owns the Land? The Arab-Israeli Conflict, by Stanley A. Ellisen. Port- 
land: Multnomah Press, 1991. Pp. 248. Paper. 

This timely volume, with its attention-catching title, addresses a topic that 
concerns everyone who is the least bit conversant with current events. The 
struggle for control in the Middle East, centering upon the conflicting claims 
regarding a small piece of real estate known generally as Palestine, has occu- 
pied the front pages of newspapers for decades, and has been an international 
problem far longer. The author is the well-known professor of Bible History 
and Prophecy at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon. 
His involvement with this subject began with a trip to the Middle East in 1952 
as part of the American Christian Palestine Committee, and he has kept close 
touch with events ever since. 

The book contains a comprehensive and very readable resume of Jewish 
persecution history, beginning with Israel's expulsion from the land in 586 B.C. 
Excellent annotated maps depict such events as Jewish expulsions from Europe 


in the Middle Ages, the various border proposals put forth in this century, the 
U. N. Partition plan, sources of the Jewish migration back to Palestine, the sur- 
rounding Arab nations with their populations and political changes, and border 
changes of Israel since independence. 

The author suggests that the government use of pogroms in Europe marks 
the beginning of anti-Semitism. He notes that the first use of the term "anti- 
Semitism" occurred in 1879 in a pamphlet by Wilhelm Marr, a German agita- 
tor (p. 52). Ellisen calls the emergence of Zionism at the turn of this century a 
"crucial turning point in Jewish history," as it "put feet to ancient hopes and 
dreams for a Jewish homeland" (p. 59). It was Zionism which added militancy 
to Jewish longings for a return. 

In tracing Jewish history during the twelve years of Hitler's regime, the 
author notes five stages of the persecution rampage (pp. 82fF.) Noting that 
these policies were implemented throughout German-occupied Europe, he asks 
why the populace collaborated so completely (with a few exceptions, of 
course), and why the rest of the world protested so feebly. He also reminds the 
readers (p. 93) of the irony inherent in the situation where the Allies showed 
such remarkable consideration for the Arab states, even though they supported 
the Axis powers throughout World War II, while making it most difficult for 
Israel to establish itself (Britain in particular being most unhelpful). Such 
anomalies do make one wonder whether more than political concerns were at 
work here. 

In the author's discussion of the Intifada ("uprising") which has brought 
such unrest in Israel during the last four years, he explains one reason for Jew- 
ish concern which rarely is mentioned in the news media. If no Jewish settle- 
ments were allowed in the occupied territories, the much larger birthrate among 
Arabs would soon cause them to outnumber the Jewish residents. This demo- 
graphic principle, given sufficient time, would shift the balance of the region. 
As Ellisen puts it, "The Palestinians could win the battle in their bedrooms" 
(p. 135). It is this factor which propels the Israelis to establish new settlements 
for Jewish residents, especially the hundreds of new immigrants from Russia. 

As Ellisen attempts to evaluate the claims of Israeli and Arab for the land, 
he puts the problem in graphic form, "How do you unscramble scrambled 
eggs?" (p. 144). He summarizes Arab claims to Palestine under five heads, 
three historical and two religious. (1) Their long residency in the land. (2) The 
British-Hussein agreement. (3) Their claim to mini-holocaust reparation (i.e. 
refugee camp suffering). (4) Appeal to Abrahamic ancestry. (5) Arab claim to 
Jerusalem as al-Quds, "The Holy." 

These are countered by five Jewish propositions. (1) Their ancient and 
continuous residency in the land. Israel occupied the land for two thousand 
years before the Arabs took it. Furthermore, the land had been ruled by the 
Turks, not the Arabs, for about 400 years when the British conquered the area 
in 1917. (2) The Balfour Declaration. (3) Their need for a haven from the Ho- 
locaust. (4) Their appeal to the Abrahamic covenant. (5) The Jews' religious 
attachment to Jerusalem. 

Each claim is evaluated in light of the counter-claim, and the author at- 
tempts to be even-handed, although his perspective is clearly Biblical rather than 
Koranic. In discussing modern proposals to resolve the conflict, he considers the 


option of an independent Palestinian state. The unlikelihood that such a state 
could sustain itself politically, militarily, or economically in the dog-eat-dog 
Arab world of the Middle East is duly noted. The impracticality of imposing 
Western democratic ideals upon the Arab world is pointed out. In a quotation 
from Walter Reich, he reminds us, "Are there any democratic countries among 
the Arab states? Was anybody elected in those countries? Sadat? Mubarak? As- 
sad? Democratic notions are simply irrelevant in this part of the world." Ellisen 
also discusses the more viable option of Palestinian autonomy under Israeli sov- 
ereignty, and notes advantages and problems. Such a procedure would be entirely 
consistent with Palestinian history in the region for centuries, inasmuch as the 
Palestinian have always lived under outside control (whether British Mandate, 
Ottoman Turks, etc.). However, it would not solve PLO demands or those of the 
other Arab states which have vowed revenge upon Israel. 

The final chapter relates the issue of Biblical prophecy. The author re- 
minds the reader that while the Abrahamic covenant promised the land to Is- 
rael forever, the Palestinian covenant required obedience from those who 
would occupy it. Failure to obey caused God to allow Israel to be driven from 
their land time and time again. Inasmuch as the nation is still largely existing 
in unbelief, Ellisen concludes, "To put it bluntly, she has no biblical right to 
the covenant land" (p. 174). The present State of Israel allows all sorts of de- 
viation from Jewish orthodoxy in its policy of toleration except for Jewish 
Christians. Even Jewish atheists can become citizens, but believers in Jesus 
may not. Teachers of prophecy would do well to remember this caution when 
discussing the current world situation. 

This is an excellent book. In a comparatively short compass, it covers the 
key factors in a readable fashion, avoids the naive though pious pronounce- 
ments about Israel that come from some pulpits today, and briefs the reader 
well on a crucial issue of our day. I heartily recommend it. 

Homer A. Kent 
Grace Theological Seminary 

Grace Theological Journal 12.2 (1991) 327-342 


ACHTEMEIER, ELIZABETH. Nature, God & Pulpit. Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1992. Pp. 206. Cloth. 

So You're Looking for a New Preacher: A Guide for Pulpit Nominating 

Committees. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 62. Paper. 

tian Perspectives on Human Development. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992. 
Paper. Pp. 274. 

ALDRICH, JOE. Prayer Summits: Seeking God's Agenda for Your Community. 
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Teaching. Mastering Ministry. Portland: Multnomah, 1991. Pp. 150. 

PANNENBERG, WOLFHART. Systematic Theology. Volume 1. Grand Rap- 
ids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 473. Cloth. 

PARKINSON, JOEL R. Orthodoxy and Heresy: Where to Draw the Line. 
Shippensburg, PA: Companion, 1991. Pp. 52. Paper. 

PARSHALL, PHIL. Beyond the Mosque: Christians Within Muslim Commu- 
nity. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. 2d printing. Pp. 256. Paper. 

Bridges to Islam: A Christian Perspective on Folk Islam. Grand Rap- 
ids: Baker, 1991. 3d printing. Pp. 163. Paper. 

PENNY, MICHAEL. Approaching the Bible. New Berlin, WI: Grace, 1992. 
Pp. 341. Paper. 

PILCH, JOHN. Introducing the Cultural Context of the Old Testament. Vol. 1. 
New York: Paulist, 1991. Pp. 212. Paper. 

Introducing the Cultural Context of the New Testament. Vol. 2. New 

York: Paulist, 1991. Pp. 254. Paper. 


PINNOCK, CLARK H. and DELWIN BROWN. Theological Crossfire: An Evan- 
gelical/Liberal Dialogue. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. Pp. 261. Paper. 

PIPER, JOHN. Love Your Enemies: Jesus' Love Command in the Synoptic 
Gospels & the Early Christian Parenesis. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991 
(1980). Pp. 273. Paper. 

PIPPERT, WESLEY G. The Hand of the Mighty: Right and Wrong Uses of 
Our Power. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. Pp. 166. Cloth. 

POKORNY, PETR. Colossians: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 
1991 (1987). Pp. 232. Cloth. 

PORTEOUS, SKIPP. Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore: From Fundamentalist 
to Freedom Writer. Buffalo: Prometheus, 1991. Pp. 313. Cloth. 

POWELL, MARK ALLAN. What Are They Saying About Acts? New York: 
Paulist, 1991. Pp. 150. Paper. 

PROVAN, IAIN. Lamentations. The New Century Bible Commentary. Great 
Britain/Grand Rapids: Marshall Pickering/Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 142. $14.95. 

QUAST, KEVIN. Reading the Gospel of John: An Introduction. New York: 
Paulist, 1991. Pp. 165. Paper. 

RAMSAY, RICHARD B. Am I Good Enough? Learning to Live By God's 
Grace. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1992. Pp. 92. Paper. 

RAUSCH, DAVID A. The Middle East Maze: Israel and Her Neighbors. Chi- 
cago: Moody, 1991. Pp. 208. Paper. 

REIST, BENJAMIN A. A Reading of Calvin's Institutes. Louisville: Westmin- 
ster/John Knox, 1991. Pp. 124. $7.95. Paper. 

RICHARDS, LAWRENCE O. Small Group Member's Commentary on the New 
Testament and Selected Psalms. Wheaton: Victor, 1992. Pp. 654. Paper. 

ROBERTS, J. J. M. Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. The Old Testament Li- 
brary. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1991. Pp. 223. $19.95. Cloth. 

ROBINSON, THOMAS A. Mastering Greek Vocabulary. Rev. ed. Peabody, 
MA: Hendrickson, 1991. Pp. 178. Paper. 

ROGERS, CLEON L., JR. The Topical Josephus: Historical Accounts That 
Shed Light on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. Pp. 238. Cloth. 

Loving Your Neighbor in the 21st Century. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992. 
Pp. 156. Paper. 

ROOP, EUGENE F. Let the Rivers Run: Stewardship and the Biblical Story. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 108. Paper. 

ROTTSCHAFER, RONALD H. The Search For Satisfaction: Getting More 
For Yourself and Giving More to Others. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992. 
Pp. 219. Paper. 

RYKEN, LELAND. Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were. Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1986. Pp. 281. Paper. 


SANDERS, JOHN. No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the 
Unevangelized. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992. Pp. 315. Paper. 

SAWYERS, NORMA E. A Personal Grief and A Reasonable Faith. Fleming- 
ton, MO: Dogwood, 1991. Pp. 138. Cloth. 

SCHNEIDERS, SANDRA M. The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Tes- 
tament as Sacred Scripture. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991. Pp. 206. 

SCHULTZE, QUENTIN J. The Business of Popular Religion: Televangelism 
and American Culture. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. Pp. 264. Cloth. 

SCIACCA, FRAN. Generation at Risk: What Legacy are the Baby-Boomers 
Leaving Their Kids? Rev. & expanded. Chicago: Moody, 1991. Pp. 253. 

SHERWIN WHITE, A. N. Roman Law and Roman Society in the New Testa- 
ment. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992 (reprint). Pp. 206. Paper. 

SILVA, MOISES. God, Language and Scripture: Reading the Bible in the 
Light of General Linguistics. Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation, 
Volume 4. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. Pp. 160. Paper. 

The Wyclijfe Exegetical Commentary: Philippians. Kenneth Baker, 

gen. ed. Chicago: Moody, 1988. Pp. 225. Cloth. 

SINE, TOM. Wild Hope: Crises Facing the Human Community on the Thresh- 
old of the 21st Century. Dallas: Word, 1991. Pp. 343. Paper. 

SMITH, DAVID L. A Handbook of Contemporary Theology: Tracing Trends 
& Discerning Directions in Today's Theological Landscape. Wheaton: 
Victor, 1992. Pp. 394. Cloth. 

SOHN, SEOCKTAE. The Divine Election of Israel. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1991. Pp. 296. Paper. 

STANLEY, CHARLES. The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life. Nashville: Thomas 
Nelson, 1992. Pp. 239. Cloth. 

STEIN, ROBERT H. Gospels and Tradition: Studies on Redaction Criticism of 
the Synoptic Gospels. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. Pp. 204. Paper. 

STEINMETZ, DEVORA. From Father to Son: Kinship, Conflict, and Continu- 
ity in Genesis. Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation. Louisville: 
Westminster/John Knox, 1991. Pp. 214. $15.95. Paper. 

STOOP, DAVID and JAN STOOP. The Intimacy Factor. Nashville: Thomas 
Nelson, 1993. Pp. 251. Cloth. 

STOTT, JOHN. Christian Basics: A Handbook of Beginnings, Beliefs and 
Behaviour. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. Pp. 160. Cloth. 

STOUT, HARRY S. The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of 
Modern Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 301. Paper. 

SYNAN, VINSON. The Spirit Said 'Grow': The astounding worldwide expan- 
sion of Pentecostal & Charismatic churches. Monrovia, CA: Marc, 1992. 
Pp. 62. Paper. 


TALBERT, CHARLES H. Reading John: A Literary and Theological Com- 
mentary on the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles. New York: 
Crossroad, 1992. Pp. 284. Cloth. 

TALMON, SHEMARYAHU, ed. Jewish Civilization in the Hellenistic Roman 
Period. Philadelphia: Trinity, 1991. Pp. 269. Paper. 

TAMBASCO, ANTHONY J. In the Days of Paul: The Social Work and Teach- 
ing of the Apostle. New York: Paulist, 1991. Pp. 125. Paper. 

TAYLOR, WILLIAM DAVID, ed. Internationalising Missionary Training. 
Missions Commission. World Evangelical Fellowship. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1991. Pp. 286. Paper. 

The Shorter Catechism: A Baptist Version. Boonton, NJ: Simpson, 

1991. Pp. 48. Paper. 

The Association of Christian Schools International. The Christian Character 
Builder Bible: A Student's Guide for Christian Living. Nashville: Thomas 
Nelson, 1992. Pp. 1204. Paper. 

THIERING, BARBARA. Jesus & the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Unlock- 
ing the Secrets of His Life Story. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. 
Pp. 452. Cloth. 

TOON, PETER. Spiritual Companions: An Introduction to the Christian Clas- 
sics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990. Pp. 210. paper. 

TROYANOVSKY, IGOR, ed. Religion in the Soviet Republics: A Guide to 
Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Other Religions. New York: 
HarperCollins, 1991. Pp. 210. Cloth. 

TURNER, DEAN. Escape from God. Pasadena: Hope, 1991. Pp. 293 (with in- 
dex). Cloth. 

VANDE KEMP, HENDRIKA, ed. Family Therapy: Christian Perspectives. 
Christian Explorations in Psychology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. 
Pp. 214. Paper. 

VAN DEN BEUKEL, A. More Things in Heaven and Earth: God & the Scien- 
tists. London: SCM, 1991. Pp. 166. Paper. 

VAN ENGEN, CHARLES. God's Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose 
of the Local Church. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. Pp. 223. Paper. 

VAN RHEENEN, GAILYN. Communicating Christ in Animistic Contexts. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. Pp. 342. Paper. 

VENDURA, NANCY. Go! Do the Same: Developing Parish Outreach Pro- 
grams. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1992. Pp. 149. Paper. 

VIRKER, HENRY A. Choosing a New Pastor: The Complete Handbook. 
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1992. Pp. 248. Paper. 

FRANK MINIRTH. The Thin Disguise: Understanding and Overcoming 
Anorexia and Bulimia. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1992. Pp. 280. Cloth. 

WAINWRIGHT, GEOFFREY et al., eds. Dictionary of the Ecumenical Move- 
ment. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 1196. $79.95. Cloth. 


WALDRON, SAMUEL E. Baptist Roots in America. Boonton, NJ: Simpson, 
1991. Pp. 47. Paper. 

WALL, JAMES M. and DAVID HEIM, eds. How My Mind Has Changed. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Pp. 184. $8.95. Paper. 

WALVOORD, JOHN F. Major Bible Prophecies: 37 Crucial Prophecies that 
Affect You Today. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991. Pp. 428. Cloth. 

WANGERIN, WALTER, JR. Reliving the Passion: Meditations on the Suffer- 
ing Death and Resurrection of Jesus as Recorded in Mark. Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1992. Pp. 156. Cloth. 

WARFIELD, BENJAMIN B. The Plan of Salvation. Boonton, NJ: Simpson, 
1989. Pp. 113. Cloth. 

WEBSTER, DOUGLAS D. Choices of the Heart: Christian Ethics for Today. 
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. Pp. 141. Paper. 

WESTERMANN, CLAUS. Prophetic Oracles of Salvation in the Old Testa- 
ment. Louisville: John Knox, 1991 (translated). Pp. 283. Paper. 

WHITE, JOE. Who Are My Real Friends? Sisters, OR: Questar, 1983. Pp. 190. 

WHITE, JOHN and KEN BLUE. Church Discipline that Heals: Putting Costly 
Love into Action. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1985. Pp. 238. Paper. 

WIERSBE, WARREN W. Be Comforted: Feeling Secure in the Arms of God. 
Wheaton: Victor, 1992. Pp. 164. Paper. 

Be Determined: Standing Firm in the Face of Opposition. Wheaton: 

Victor, 1992. Pp. 160. Paper. 

Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton: Victor, 

1992. Pp. 858. Cloth. 

WILHOIT, JIM. Christian Education and the Search for Meaning. 2d ed. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986. Pp. 181. Paper. 

WILKINSON, LOREN, ed. Earth Keeping in the 90s: Stewardship of Cre- 
ation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. Revised. Pp. 391. Paper. 

WILSON, SANDRA D. Shame Free Parenting. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 
1992. Pp. 216. Paper. 

WOLF, HERBERT. An Introduction to the Old Testament Pentateuch. Chi- 
cago: Moody, 1991. Pp. 276. Cloth. 

Doing Theology in Today's World: Essays in Honor of Kenneth S. 
Kantzer. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991. Pp. 511. Cloth. 

WRIGHT, NIGEL. The Satan Syndrome: Putting the Power of Darkness in Its 
Place. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. Pp. 198. Paper. 

WYRTZEN, DAVID. Unexpected Grace: How God Brings Meaning Out of 
Our Failures. Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1992. Pp. 160. Paper. 

YANCEY, PHILIP. Praying with the KGB: A Startling Report from a Shat- 
tered Empire. Portland: Multnomah, 1992. Pp. 106. Paper. 


YARBROUGH, ROBERT W. John. Everyman's Bible Commentary. Chicago: 
Moody, 1991. Pp. 216. paper. 

ZIEFLE, HELMUT W. Dictionary of Modern Theological German. Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1992. Pp. 354. Paper. 

ZUCK, ROY B., ed. Sitting With Job: Selected Studies on the Book of Job. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992. Pp. 448. Paper. 

Books Reviewed, cont. 


Hedlund, Roger E., The Mission of the Church in the World: A Biblical Theology 

(Paul A. Beals) 316 

Stout, Harry S., The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Mod- 
ern Evangelicalism (James Edward McGoldrick) 317 


Achtemeier, Elizabeth, So You're Looking for a New Preacher: A Guide for Pul- 
pit Nominating Committees (David F. Colman) 318 

Ankerberg, John and John Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge: 

A Christian Perspective (James Edward McGoldrick) 319 

Badke, William B., Project Earth: Preserving the World God Created 

(Richard A. Young) 320 

Corduan, Winfried, Mysticism: An Evangelical Option? (David W. Landrum). . . . 322 

Duriez, Colin, The C. S. Lewis Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to His Life, 

Thought and Writings (Michael A. Van Horn) 323 

Ellisen, Stanley A., Who Owns the Land? The Arab-Israeli Conflict (Homer A. 

Kent) 324 

Books Reviewed 


Barth, Christoph, God With Us: A Theological Introduction to the Old Testa- 
ment (John I. Lawlor) 279 

Birch, Bruce C, Let Justice Roll Down: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Chris- 
tian Life (John I. Lawlor) 280 

Brueggemann, Walter, Jeremiah 26-52: To Build, To Plant (Richard D. 

Patterson) 281 

Garrett, Duane, Rethinking Genesis: The Sources and Authorship of the First 

Book of the Pentateuch (John I. Lawlor) 284 

Hamilton, Victor P., The Book of Genesis: Chapter 1-17. The New International 

Commentary on the Old Testament (David G. Barker) 286 

Hasel, Gerhard F., Understanding the Book of Amos: Basic Issues in Current In- 
terpretations (Robert B. Chisholm) 289 

Roberts, J. J. M., Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: A Commentary (Thomas J. 

Finley) 290 

Westermann, Claus, Prophetic Oracles of Salvation in the Old Testament 

(Michael A. Grisanti) 292 

Zuck, Roy B., A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament (Michael A. Grisanti) . . 294 


Carson, Donald A., The Gospel According to John (Jerry D. Colwell) 296 

Gardner, Richard B., Matthew (David L. Turner) 297 


Batey, Richard A., Jesus and the Forgotten City: New Light on the Urban World 

of Jesus (Robert Ibach) 299 

McRay, John, Archaeology and the New Testament (Homer A. Kent) 300 


Alter, Robert, The World of Biblical Literature (Branson L. Woodard, Jr.) 300 

Douglas, J. D., New 20th-century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge 

(Richard A. Young) 303 

Franklin, Stephen T., Speaking from the Depths: Alfred North Whitehead's 
Hermeneutical Metaphysics of Propositions, Experience, Symbolism, Lan- 
guage and Religion (John D. Morrison) 304 

Garrett, James Leo, Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical, & Evangelical 

(Ronald T. Clutter) 307 

Moreland, J. P., Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Investi- 
gation (John D. Morrison) 308 

Morris, Thomas V., Our Idea of God: An Introduction to 

Philosophical Theology (Richard A. Young) 310 

Tinder, Glenn, The Political Meaning of Christianity: The 

Prophetic Stance, An Interpretation (Rex M. Rogers) 311 


Carden, Allen, Puritan Christianity in America 

(Dwayne Cole) 313 

Dayton, Donald W. and Robert K. Johnston, The 

Variety of American Evangelicalism (Ronald T. Clutter) 314